The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) has created a smartphone app which the organisation hopes will strengthen the digital wellbeing of children when they go online.
The app, named “Own It” will monitor how young people communicate with family and friends over the Internet and through messaging apps. Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology in the app software will track the user’s mood, offering advice and guidance or the opportunity to talk to a trusted adult if they need help.
Assistance will also be provided to kids with regards to their personal data, with support being given if children are about to share sensitive information or an upsetting message.
In a statement, Alice Webb, director of BBC Children’s, said:
“The digital world is a fantastic place for people to learn and share, but we know many young people struggle to find a healthy online balance, especially when they get their first phones.”
Ms Webb underlined how the app would provide much needed guidance to children, helping them to promote good practice when using their first smartphone while avoiding some of the more common pitfalls of life online.
Own It comes with a specially developed software keyboard which pops up to help youngsters write messages, and supervises the tone of the words or language being used. The app holds specific content which is designed to assist kids in managing how much time they spend looking at their phone screens, and offers advice about how to develop responsible behaviours when using the Internet.
The BBC said the app will encourage children to talk to parents on a regular basis regarding positive and negative experiences that they had had while using their smartphone. However, the app does not have a reporting system that parents can work with to see how the phone is being used, the BBC added.
Speaking to the BBC, Professor Sonia Livingstone, a social psychologist from the London School of Economics, said the app would be “warmly welcomed” by some parents.
Professor Livingstone, who heads the EU Kids Online project, added:
“Based on my research on children’s online risks and opportunities, I think it should be very helpful for children, especially younger ones, and ideally would also stimulate constructive conversations between children and parents.”
“The challenge will be to get it to the children who are more at risk online,” she continued.
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