Cyberbullying has grown to become a serious problem for children of all ages. A new and unique App, Shieldbully, launched today, is a low cost, easy-to-learn-and-use, mobile device app which offers parents an invaluable window into their child’s online world, allowing them to remotely monitor and control their child’s online activity.
Cyberbullying involves sending hurtful or offensive messages online. It is linked to higher levels of depression, suicidal thoughts and social isolation among young people, according to a report commissioned by the Department of Education and the HSE National Office for Suicide Prevention in 2014. Abusive emails and sexting are the most frequent forms of cyberbullying with a recent UK report showing that 30% of 15 year olds have sent a naked photo of themselves at least once and 5% of 13 year olds have sent naked photos several times a week.
The Shieldbully App, from Liverpool based Safe Net Technologies, allows the monitoring of a child’s online activity through the parents Smart Phone or Tablet. This easy to use mobile application can be downloaded free from Shieldbully.com, or the advanced range of parental controls for £3.99 per month, Shieldbully provides these advanced parental controls for all the children’s devices.
Shieldbully allows parents to set time limits governing when children can go online with their tablets or smartphones; block questionable Apps; and receive daily and weekly summaries of online activities sent to the parents mobile device. It also helps to minimise other mobile device “non-bullying risks” such as smartphone dependency or addiction, and the health and safety risks associated with a child’s prolonged exposure to smartphone emissions.
Shieldbully provides extensive controls (via an easy centralized dashboard) which tracks social networking sites (Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, YouTube, and Snapchat) plus all other App and SMS messaging management. It enables the scheduled locking of the child’s device, or blocking Apps. This can also be done remotely from the parent’s mobile device. Only the emergency call button is available, and only the parents can unlock the device. Shieldbully enables the parent to monitor where their child currently is through the use of their child’s smartphone location service.
Safe Net Technologies CEO and father of four, Peter Kirwan said “Today we allow our children to be educated by the Internet. This comes with a range of positives and negatives. Unintentionally we are opening their young minds up to Cyber Bullying, Grooming and addiction to Gambling and Pornography. This can lead to depression, lack of self-worth, and in the saddest circumstances, suicide. We are allowing our children to be robbed of their innocence. As parents we feel helpless in this battle against irresponsible individuals, and in some cases industries, that actively target children”.
Peter continues: “As a father in this situation I wanted to replicate the controls that I have in the real world in my children’s online world. We all carry Mobile Phones and I felt this was the most effective and simple way of regaining control. I sincerely hope that the Shieldbully App will play a major role in protecting children from the darker side of their online life. This is the internet equivalent of fastening a life jacket or seat belt”.
The increasingly negative impact of social media and excessive mobile device usage has on children has even attracted the attention of celebrities. Hollywood actress Kate Winslet – star of the new Steve Jobs film – recently stated in an interview with the Sunday Times, that parents should take iPads “out of their children’s hands” as they are “losing control” of them to a world of social media. Shieldbully aims to restore this ‘control’ to parents whilst retaining the child’s right to some online privacy.
Whilst Safe Net Technologies acknowledge that anti-cyberbullying software is not new, the existing products do tend to be all or nothing – either full on “spying” or limited effectiveness. Shieldbully is different as Ken Garner Marketing Director for Safe Net Technologies explains: “All parents have to manage that difficult balance between freedom and safety; we do it all the time in the real world. It’s much more difficult in cyber space where it seems to be a black and white choice between privacy and security, when in actuality what is required is both good privacy protection and good cybersecurity. This dilemma is compounded by the fact that most children are more tech savvy than their parents!”
Ken continues: “Uniquely, Shieldbully balances both security and privacy. It has been designed to automate and de-skill the monitoring and supervision of a child’s mobile device thereby enabling parents to replicate in the child’s online world the parental moderation and child safety rules they impose in the real world.”
Shieldbully also offers parents access to a virtual chat room where they can compare experiences with Apps and Websites etc. The purpose of this is to help enlighten each other should you discover a dangerous or inappropriate App or Website.
Mutual consent between parent and child is required to install the app, which can be downloaded from www.shieldbully.com.
Photo by www.milliepilkington.co.uk