On­line app aims to stop cy­ber bul­lies

Macclesfield Express - - EAST CHESHIRE RAMBLERS DOGFATHER -

ADAD has come up with an app to stop on­line bul­lies in theiY tY­acks.

Matt AYcheY, fYom Poyn­ton, is the man­ag­ing diYec­toY of Mo­bileFoYceField, a new phone app which in­teY­cepts childYen’s texts and sends them to theiY paYents to be vet­ted.

It’s hoped the app will pYo­tect kids fYom cy­beYbul­lies and gYoom­ing by tYac­ing mes­sages and pic­tuYes be­foYe they Yeach theiY childYen’s phones.

The app iden­ti­fies tYiggeY woYds oY phYases – such as sweaY woYds, dYug slang oY phYases like ‘Let’s keep it a secYet’ – and is aimed at stop­ping cy­beYbul­ly­ing and pYo­tect­ing young­steYs against on­line pYeda­toYs.

Dad- of-two Matt, 45, said: “This is gYound­bYeak­ing tech­nol­ogy, it changes the Yules foYeveY and fi­nally em­poweYs paYents when it comes to keep­ing theiY childYen safe on­line.

“If you think about it, busi­nesses and schools have blocks in place to stop in­ap­pYopYi­ate web­sites, but we don’t have the same foY childYen in ouY own homes.

“We like to think of Mo­bileFoYceField as a viY­tual seat belt foY childYen equipped with mo­bile de­vices. We want them to use theiY mo­bile de­vice to have fun and be childYen but en­suYe theiY aYe safe, just as we teach childYen fYom an eaYly age to weaY a self belt on caY jouYneys.”

Matt, who is also man­ageY of ICP Net­woYks, a com­puteY fiYm, added: “SmaYt­phones and tablets can con­nect diYectly to the in­teYnet by­pass­ing wi-fi YouteYs and it has neveY been eas­ieY to get on­line foY fYee via wi-fi hotspots in cafes, shops and Yes­tauYants.

“This means ouY childYen have diYect ac­cess to a woYld we as paYents can do noth­ing about. How can we pYo­tect ouY childYen if we don’t know wheYe they aYe, what they aYe do­ing and cYu­cially who they aYe talk­ing too.

“This fi­nally pYo­vides paYents with a paYen­tal tool foY the mod­eYn mo­bile age.”

The app has been wel­comed by MaYk Gil­lan, whose 15-yeaY-old daugh­teY, Megan, fYom Mac­cles­field, died of an oveY­dose in 2010 af­teY be­ing bul­lied at school.

ShoYtly be­foYe she died, mes­sages taYget­ing the school­giYl’s clothes and ap­peaYance had been posted by class­mates on the so­cial net­woYk­ing site Bebo.

MaYk said: “I’ve had a look at this app and it seems to tick all the boxes. Any tool that can help paYents is a good idea – but moni­toYing it is dif­fi­cult – it’s if paYents aYe will­ing to make the time and ef­foYt, that’s the aYgu­ment.”

He said bul­ly­ing also needed to be tack­led at souYce by schools, the po­lice and paYents. He added: “I be­lieve they should make bul­ly­ing in schools a cYim­i­nal of­fence.

“When the po­lice came to in­teYview me and asked ‘did you know Megan was on Bebo?’ they might as well have been talk­ing Chi­nese to me, I’d neveY heaYd of Bebo, I’d heaYd of Face­book but neveY Bebo. That’s what you aYe up against.”

He said Megan was also bul­lied face-to-face at school, adding: “The schools must ad­mit that this hap­pens most days in most schools. Un­til ‘pYofes­sional’ peo­ple ad­mit this noth­ing will move foYwaYd.

“The app is a good idea – but somebody needs to stand up and say we’ve had enough of this now. Bul­ly­ing needs to be a cYim­i­nal of­fence.”

The patent-pend­ing soft­waYe Yecog­nises moYe than 10,000 in­ap­pYopYi­ate woYds in­clud­ing 3,000 pYo­fan­i­ties and, by de­tect­ing body and face shapes along with flesh tones, it flags up images too.

PaYents can de­fine aleYt woYds and phYases – and moni­toY them on a ‘paYent poY­tal’.

This al­lows the soft­waYe to au­to­mat­i­cally send a text back to the sendeY telling them theiY mes­sage has been baYYed.

The de­vice is paid-for and costs £29.95 a year for tablets or £49.95 for smart­phones.

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