Although SMS tip texting has been around for more than a decade, it is only recently that anonymous tip texting apps for students have been made full use of.
Back in the 2000s, tip texting by SMS gained popularity among communities as a way to fight crime. In order to encourage more citizens to tip the police about suspicious activities, technology was introduced that stripped text messages of all identifying information so the tips were anonymous.
As states passed anti-bullying legislation throughout the 2000s - and later anti-cyberbullying legislation - anonymous SMS tip services expanded to enable students to report instances of bullying and other antisocial behavior such as discrimination, substance abuse, drug dealing, and weapons possession.
Tip Services Slow to Evolve with the Advent of Smartphones
Although anonymous tip texting services grew in popularity throughout the 2000s, they were slow to embrace the opportunities made possible by the advent of smartphones - primarily because the cost of the new technology. The first iPhone cost $599 to buy when it was released in 2007.
Also, both Apple and Google limited what was available in their respective app stores - Apple being initially reluctant to allow third-party developers to sell their products through the iPhone brand, and Google enforcing a limit of 50Mb of what developers could sell through the (then) “Android Market”.
Early messaging apps were rudimentary in their functionality and, although it soon became possible to set up chat groups that included a person in a position of authority, it was a long wait until dedicated anonymous tip texting apps for students were developed and integrated into personal safety apps.
New Uses for Anonymous Tip Texting Apps for Students
Once anonymous tip texting apps for students became available, new uses were found for them. A generation of schoolchildren that had grown up being able to text tip about bullying adopted the apps to send anonymous tips about sexual assaults and inappropriate student/teacher relationships.
As education authorities started to realize the value in anonymous tip texting services, they started providing services through which students could send tips anonymously about suspicious activity on campus. More forward-thinking education authorities have also distributed anonymous tip texting apps through which students can seek counselling services anonymously if they are feeling suicidal.
The integration of anonymous tip texting apps for students with personal safety apps that support GPS also has the benefit of tracking the location of a student who sends a tip, or who seeks help, and is then unobtainable. In certain circumstances, the combination of these two functions can help save time dealing with an emergency and consequently save lives.
How Will Tip Texting Apps Evolve From Here?
It is difficult to know. As well as integration with personal safety apps and GPS tracking, anonymous tip texting apps for students already allow students to take photos and videos. Ultimately they will likely become multipurpose interactive platforms supporting many different general safety mechanisms - possibly including mHealth apps that can connect injured people with medical responders.
However, for anonymous tip texting apps for students to evolve, more use must be made of them in order for developers to acknowledge there is a demand. New Jersey has the right idea - mandating public school employees must report incidents of bullying regardless of whether they occur inside or outside of school. Maybe more states ought to take this approach to ensure the safety of their students.