Grooming and Trolling: Is Techno Santa packing a mixed bag for 21st Century Kids?

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A new app launched today allows parents to monitor their childs online activity. Shieldbully is an easy to use mobile application with multiple features including a location finder, picture scanner and internet usage alert. The basic app is available for free download and the advanced suite of parental controls costs 3.99 monthly.

Safe Net Technologies CEO and father of four Peter Kirwan said “Cyber-bullying is a massive threat to our children€™s safety and welfare today. I sincerely hope the Shieldbully app will play a major role in protecting children from the darker aspects of online communication, while giving parents the tools to provide a cyber safety net. This is the technological equivalent to fastening a life jacket or seat belt€.

Speaking at the Irish Association of Suicidology€™s annual conference in Naas, Co Kildare on October 9th, President Michael D. Higgins said “I read last week the results of a survey which said that one in four Irish teenagers have been victims of cyber-bullying, compared to one in five teenagers across the other 10 countries in the same survey. That should make us weep, the idea that a means of communication is being used in such a fashion and it has to be addressed.”

Hollywood actress Kate Winslet, star of the new Steve Jobs film, has said parents should take iPads out of their children’s hands€ as they are losing control of them to a world of social media, in an interview with the Sunday Times on November 1st.

Cyber-bullying is the circulation of hurtful or nasty messages online and 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 among the most prevalent 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.

Shieldbully€™s controls include monitoring child€™s app usage, logging hours online, viewing messages and images and a location mapping tool showing their whereabouts. The app controls can be tailored according to the childs age, level of maturity and previous behavior.

Mutual consent between parent and child is required to install the app, which can be downloaded from the website. The basic version is free and the full suite costs €3.99 a month and covers four child mobile devices including phones, Ipads and tablets.



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