Phone app ‘Line’ under fire from school after incidents of bullying


What started as a simple school memo sent out to parents last Friday has mushroomed into a nationwide discussion the issues of censorship and bullying in schools and online.

The issue was triggered by a tweet which was sent out on Friday by a now disabled account showing a photo of the letter along with the caption “my school wants to ban Line and stuff lolololol.”

Line has become a highly popular app in Japan for its variety of functions including instant messaging, image sharing, and free voice calls over the internet.

According to the photo that accompanied the original tweet, the memo read:


Regarding Line Ban

"We hope all families are enjoying a healthy and prosperous spring season. Also we would like to thank you for your continuing support and cooperation in the educational activities of our school.

So, regarding the subject of this letter; in this school in April, various incidents occurred which had involved Line. This school feels that aside from contacting parents there is really no need for mobile phones. We especially feel that there is no place for Line in a child’s daily life.

From now on this school would like to ban any and all use of Line. Thank you very much.

We would also like to advise parents to, even at home, check your children’s mobile phones. If the Line application is present then we ask you to delete it.

Also starting now, students who are found using Line in or around the school will be notified of the ban. In order to prevent future trouble regarding Line, we ask for your cooperation in this matter."

This original message triggered a lot of discussion surrounding the “various incidents” that caused this school to outlaw the application on Twitter and other online forums. Many netizens came out saying that it must have been cases of bullying.

This theory had been supported by many who claimed they were victims of bullying through Line. Some had cited incidents where mass snubs had occurred in group chats in which one person’s comment would cause all other participants to quit the session simultaneously.

The Huffington Post Japan had also reported on cases where Line had been used to harass students, with cases of repeated messages of “die”, along with “sticker shakedowns.”

Stickers are photos or drawings that can be used like emoticons when posting messages. Those are purchased from Naver (the developer of Line) but can also be bought as gifts for other users.

According to reports, bullies would intimidate classmates into gifting them with stickers. This theory is strengthened by an announcement made a week earlier by Naver which said that they would be discontinuing the sticker gift function on iPhone versions of Line at the request of Apple.

With bullying unofficially established as the cause of the school’s ban on Line, many have come out in defense of the app. With several other VoIP applications available people consider it unfair to only ban Line pointing out that Line doesn’t bully people, people bully people.

Source: Huffington Post Japan, Naver Matome, Line Blog

Read more stories from RocketNews24. -- Kyoto Bullying Awareness Event Sees Teenager Topple Demon in Wrestling Match -- School Principal: Don’t Report Bullying to the Police, Or Else! -- Online Game Addiction: Not Exactly “Substance” Abuse But Could Be Becoming a Serious Problem in Japan

© RocketNews24

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I'm so glad I grew up in a time (born 1965) where there was no internet, no cell phones, etc etc.... When playing meant going to the park, or packing a lunch and going for long bike rides with friends etc etc....instead of now a days when playing means to go to some kids house and play their X-box all day, or tweet on Twitter, Line BS, etc etc.......

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Nonsense , how can line be targeted and not yahoo,msn , viber, what's app....the list goes on. Don't want to be bullied close your account or don't give your details out. It's easier for the staff to not confront the issue of bullying head on and blame some software.

Usage of phone in school hours should be stopped. Whatever happens from after hour conversations the school has no say

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Line is a big hit in Japan and among students right now. What I hear is actually many parents are encouraging their kids of using this app as budget cutting measure. Most of the kids in junior high and even some in shougaku already have smart phones. The parents tell their kids to use Line on the free WiFi at home to connect to friends. I know what happens between classmates of my kid in school and only imagination can give you what extension can it have in virtual space where even more can be done not facing the person. Just my impressions...

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

" With several other VoIP applications available people consider it unfair to only ban Line pointing out that Line doesn’t bully people, people bully people."

Why does that argument sound familiar?

Something like "inanimate objects don't hurt people; people hurt people."

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Ahh, archaic Japan and its old-boy thinking everywhere.

The school (which school, tell us!) is trying to avoid the problems by "banning" an app... Why does this always seem to be the preferred way? To never attack the problems ar the root but instead just skim the surface? Does the school perhaps think it's "mendokusai" to do some problem solving? Easier to send out a parental "cease-and desist" onegai. Ridiculously lazy.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I wish the memo addressed the elephant in the room which is the huge bullying problem in Japan. I am certain that removing line will do absolutely nothing to improve the bullying situation. Too sad that schools decide to hide the fact by "showing action" with meaningless memos like these.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

good old bullying. back in the day before line or other crap, i got chased home by an older student in elementary school and 4-5 of his buddies intent on kicking my arse. i remember snot running down my nose and tears streaming from my eyes as I ran as fast as i could with the pack en route and safely making it home. probably I would rather some fools bully me on line.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

ban the medium but not the cause. Yes it looks like the school is doing something. Ban phones in school OK but when something is found confront the person not the device. Take your head out of the sand and confront the bully

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Who needs an app to bully anyway? There is always the good old fist-in-the-face, and making fun of the poor-kids shoes.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Line is a big hit in Japan and among students right now.

Not just the students, but the parents as well. My daughter's pre-school lets you check on the classroom via a webcam, which we use sometimes. Recently we found out that all the mamatomos talk to each other on Line while watching the webcam all day. Kind of frightening.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

What kid needs a phone in school for any way? They shouldn't even need this discussion.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Biff uses Line as well as the old bullying techniques. Bust Biff in the chops, old-school.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Great way to stop bullying!

While they are at it, why not ban pens and pencils? They could be used to bully. Ban talking too, just to be on the safe side. Perhaps students shouldn't be allowed to take their hands out of their pockets, lest they hit each other.

...or maybe just find out who is bullying who and try to correct their behaviour. Bullying has been around much longer than cellphones, taking the phones away only shifts the problem as others have pointed out.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I never really understood the need for a cell phone to be active during school anyway- or the need of it being physically on the student's person during class.

i don't care if we are in the electronic world- these are middle and high school- where are they going? if the parent's need them they can talk to the school admins first.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Clearly a case of "This is Japan" Sydrome got Line stickers deactivated.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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