Why We Built The "Let's Talk About It" App
â€œI had no idea this was happening to my child.â€ Famous words said by almost every parent of a child who has been bullied. In the worst scenerios, the realization comes too late to do any good. Thatâ€™s why we built BullyGuardâ„¢ - we wanted to create something that would give parents an edge in this day of digital communication. An early warning system, if you will, that would enhance the only real cure for bullying: communication. Our mission is to provide parents with a tool to help protect their children.
Bullying thrives in dark places â€“ when attacks, both verbal and physical, happen in secret, beyond the view of the people who can do something about it, it creates a situation that kills our children, irrevocably harms families and diminishes our society. If youâ€™re reading this, chances are we donâ€™t need to convince you of the epidemic that bullying and cyberbullying has become. Even though educators, police and scores of concerned groups are very aware of the problem, it keeps happening.
The increase in social media through smart phones, text messaging, instant messaging, email, Facebook, and Twitter has put our children on stage and available anytime. Their increased exposure has both positive and negative impacts. BullyGuardâ„¢ aims at reducing the negative impact technology has on our children. The current generation of teenagers communicate more via text message than any generation before. Whatâ€™s more, they are the most online generation ever â€“ and the Internet is 24/7. This leaves parents with an almost impossible task:
- â€œHow can I allow my child access to social media and keep them safe at the same time?â€
- â€œIf I remove access, I risk making them a social outcast among their peers.â€
- â€œIf I donâ€™t remove access, they are exposed to danger.â€
- â€œRealistically, I cannot monitor their online interactions 24/7, and my child can delete content anytime without my knowledge that there is a problem.â€
BullyGuardâ„¢ bridges the gap between removing access, spying on your child or leaving them exposed to danger by notifying you when negative key words are exchanged between your child and someone else. You will be informed as to what negative words were used, who sent the message and at what time. It is up to you, as a parent, to gauge the level of seriousness and escalate your involvement from that point forward.
BullyGuardâ„¢ is a non-intrusive tool that will alert parents if there are signs of problems with your child or their peer group with regards to cyberbullying. It is an app that sits quietly in the background and notifies parents or guardians when specific keywords or phrases are mentioned in their childâ€™s texting. Take the word â€œsuicideâ€ for example. This is one of the many words that BullyGuardâ„¢ watches for. Should that word be present in a text message sent from or received by a device monitored by BullyGuardâ„¢, an alert would be generated and the parent or guardian notified. But what does that mean? BullyGuardâ„¢ has no idea. None of the relating message is collected or stored by BullyGuardâ„¢. Thatâ€™s one of the ways that makes BullyGuardâ„¢ so different. To find out the context of the alert, the parent has to go to the device in question. Should the message be something innocuous as â€œhave you heard that such-and-such celebrity committed suicide,â€ then no problem. But if the message is â€œI want to commit suicide.â€ Well, if you were that childâ€™s parent, wouldnâ€™t you want to know either way? Thatâ€™s why we call it the â€œletâ€™s talk about itâ€ app. BullyGuardâ„¢ is programmed to identify key words and phrases that have potentially negative connotations involving death, bullying, violence, sex, profanity, racism and slang. Our system is constantly updated as new potential threats appear.
Our mission of BullyGuardâ„¢ is to provide parents with a tool to combat the negative impact technological advances are having on our kids. Currently BullyGuard protects Android users, however over the next few months we will be adding:
- iOS Version
- Facebook & Twitter private messaging
- Custom Keyword or Phrase monitoring
We are committed to staying current with the social media technology as it evolves. Please help us to get the message out that there is a solution to combat cyberbullying by spreading the word via Facebook, Twitter, email or just letting your friends and colleagues know.