Local Teen Designs App To Stop Cyberbullying

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Cyberbullying is a growing problem. Social media, in particular, allows teenagers to harass one another in ways not possible just a decade ago. To fight that trend, one Tennessee Valley student has designed a new app for Facebook.

Timothy Mullican, just 15, designed and programmed an app called Words Hurt – all on his own. “Cyberbullying is such a common occurrence in the world and there’s not a lot of apps that stop it,” Mullican explained, “So I thought I’d be one of the first to try to prevent it.”

It may sound incredible that a 10th grade student could create an app from scratch but Mullican has a lot of exposure with computer programing – plus some natural talent.

“My parents were Unix systems administrators,” Mullican said, “From a young age we always had computers around the house.”

Words Hurt is free to download on Facebook. Just do a quick search in the apps section and you’ll find it. It has two parts. The first, is designed to educate you about cyberbullying and the second, to search a friend’s wall for evidence of it. You can even print the results of your searches to help make a case to school administrators or other authorities.

Mullican designed the app for a contest through the youth organization ReachOut – and won. His instructor at Westminster Christian Academy, Clay Durrett, suggested the project.

“When you give someone an opportunity… they can pretty much do about anything,” Durrett said when asked if Mullican may inspire other tech-savvy teens, “I’m really proud of Tim.”

It took Mullican three long months to do all the coding for the Words Hurt app – and he barely made the deadline. His contest win netted him $2,000 and ten hours of training with an Adobe professional.

Mullican said he’s already working to move Words Hurt out of Beta (re: give it more tools and an upgraded look) and hopes it will catch on in a big way among his peers.

Click here to watch a video of Mullican explaining how his app works in detail.