Review by Erin Brereton, Common Sense Education | Updated April 2015

Bystander Revolution

Uneven content limits the impact of laudable anti-bullying site

Subjects & skills
Skills
  • Character & SEL
  • Communication & Collaboration

Subjects
  • English Language Arts
  • Social Studies
Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
9-12
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Pros: Kids can get some helpful tips for dealing with and preventing bullying.

Cons: Content quality varies per video; some are more helpful than others.

Bottom Line: Though kids may not find concrete tips or actionable help in every video, they'll likely feel empowered after spending time on the site.

User-submitted videos and brief celebrity testimonials provide encouragement and advice; teachers could potentially show them in class to explain bullying -- and how to stop it.

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Bystander Revolution was launched in 2014 by MacKenzie Bezos, wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, and it features more than 100 one- to two-minute videos. Celebrities like Ansel Elgort and MMA fighter TJ Dilashaw, along with teens who submitted their own clips, share personal experiences and offer tips on handling and preventing bullying.

Kids can find videos on the site by clicking on situation-related topic headings, such as "being afraid to help" or "feeling excluded." User-submitted videos have to be uploaded via YouTube, and site videos can be watched on YouTube or through the Bystander Revolution website.

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Generally, the site's videos feature positive, uplifting advice. The content can vary; some videos -- both celebrity and user-submitted ones -- can feel a little long and unfocused. It's hard to criticize the subjects, who all clearly have an admirable intent. As a result, however, kids may not get hugely actionable suggestions from every single clip they watch. Teachers will likely want to screen videos before showing them in class or sharing them with students via email to make sure they select the most clear, helpful examples.

Regardless of how long, short, or focused the videos are, kids will definitely get emotional support from watching them -- whether they're frustrated about seeing classmates bullied or being picked on -- which is a huge plus. Bystander Revolution's only major flaw is its almost universal focus on video clips. Aside from a page listing several teen hotlines, educators and kids won't find many other materials. Adding written resources and interactive or other elements might help kids who come to the site looking for help -- and would make the overall experience even more engaging.

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Overall Rating

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?

Celebrities and teens share personal stories in brief videos kids may be able to relate to. Kids can't post comments or react, which prevents potential cyberbullying and negativity but limits interaction and impact.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?

Kids learn positive solutions to help them avoid being victimized or (even inadvertently) bullying someone else. They'll also find out how to help kids who are being bullied.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?

The site offers a number of help hotline resources for teens, including a suicide hotline. Otherwise, though, it's tough to view the videos methodically or find which ones are consistently helpful.


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