College, our home away from home, can allow us to experience independence. However, it means students have the responsibility to get adequate amounts of sleep, eat properly and study hard.
This also means becoming aware that maintaining personal safety is important. Students can download smartphone apps which focus on safety and are easy, accessible and affordable.
Dr. Aviva Twersky Glasner, chair of the Criminal Justice Department at Seton Hall and a former research scientist for the New Jersey Juvenile Justice Commission, said she wholeheartedly believes in the use of safety apps for college students. “I think it is a wonderful idea,” Glasner said.
The following five safety apps will help the everyday Pirate be safe tomorrow.
1. Companion (Free for iPhones and Androids)
Nervous to walk alone at night? You are not alone. “I would strongly advise [students] to never be out alone at night, even on campus. If being out alone is unavoidable, let someone know where you are going and when you expect to be there,” Glasner said. Companion was created by a small group of University of Michigan students who saw the need of college students to feel less vulnerable while heading back to their car, dorm or house alone, according to a Cosmopolitan article. The app itself allows you to choose “companions” which can include anyone from family, friends or roommates.
Companion then hones in on your location and can sense when you may be in distress such as if you start running or if your headphones are yanked out. Your “companions” will then get an alert and can access your location instantly. The app also has an “I Am Nervous” for discrete and immediate notification to the nearest police department.
2. OnWatch (Free for iPhones and Androids)
Traveling off-campus can come with risks. Whether you are going to a party, walking to South Orange Village or getting a quick jog after class, you must always be vigilant and aware of your surroundings. Glasner said she recommends not being afraid to call SHU security if you veer off from campus grounds: “Don’t be shy about asking security for transportation, even if it is for one block away from campus,” Glasner added. However, if you find yourself traveling alone off-campus, keep your guard up. If you get that creepy feeling that somebody is watching or following you, it is important to never ignore it.
In times like this, the OnWatch OnCampus app is essential to have on your phone. With the OnWatch OnCampus’ feature called “Watch My Back,” users can create a timer for how much time they believe it will take to get to their destination safely. If this timer runs out, the user’s phone will be prompted to enter a passcode. If there is no response, an alert is sent to a pre-selected contact with the phone’s location. Consider it an extra set of eyes as you venture off campus. In addition to this, the app lets you contact friends, police and campus security.
3. My Panic Alarm ($0.99 for iPhones and Androids)
In the event that you encounter a dangerous situation, My Panic Alarm is your go-to app. With the push of a button, My Panic Alarm lets out a piercingly loud cry and flashing lights to signal to others nearby that you are in distress. This app is especially useful in crowds or largely-populated areas such as at a concert or on campus.
4. Circle of Six (Free for iPhones and Androids)
We’ve all been there, you’re out with your friends at a party, having a good time, when that one person comes over and basically corners you into a conversation. Circle of Six is a nationally recognized app that allows you to pre-select six contacts that you would call in a dangerous situation, according to the Cosmopolitan website. With this circle, you can discretely send an alert to your six contacts, letting them know that you need them to call with a fake excuse or a quick ride home to exit a sketchy situation.
5. MyForce (30-Day Free Trial, $119/year for iPhones and Androids)
This app gives you protection from potential threats at the palm of your hand. MyForce monitors your location and allows you to call an around the clock security unit that connects you to the nearest police department or campus security.
This app grants you access to personal protection whenever and wherever you may need it, no questions asked, like your own personal security squad.
As college students of the digital age, safety apps are our secret weapons against potentially dangerous encounters.
Gianna Barone can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org