There have been efforts to promote internet safety among the digital natives from the public and private sectors. Parental controls and filters proved to be not so effective as many hoped.
With the premise of making parents, educators, and children harmoniously work together to keep the young ones from excessive use of the internet as well as the other dangers it brings, Australian IT investor Tony Fawaz helped developed Visible Internet, an app that allows parents and educators to monitor the online behavior of children without being invasive.
Fawaz was prompted to find a solution when his niece encountered a video projecting violence on the internet.
“I discovered all the products in the market were, in a lot of ways, inefficient for a parent,” Fawaz said. “I even think the language they’re using — policing, spying, controlling, filtering technologies, — may create division between parents and their children.”
Fawaz conceded that it is practically impossible to try to control what kids are doing on the internet and adds that existing parental controls available online “are giving parents a false sense of security.”
Parents can install the Visible Internet app in their children’s devices and they can monitor the apps and websites they are accessing through their own devices. It is, however, Fawaz insisted far from being the Big Brother-type of monitoring because it provides interaction between parents or educators and the children. When a parent saw that a child accessed whether accidentally or in purpose an inappropriate content, he or she has the option to remind the child of the dangers or limit the child’s access to the said content.
“The app has a variety of features which gives them the ability to interact as a parent with their children,” he said. “It removes the wall.”
Educators can screen capture the mirror image of what’s on the child’s internet or device activity and send them to the parents so they can talk to the child if there is something wrong with app or website that has been accessed. The parent-child app also enables parents to see the child’s location. Monitoring can be set up whether at regular intervals or on demand.
“With Visible Internet, we reconnect and connect parents with their kids in a very pragmatic and logical way,” Fawaz said. “We’re doing the same thing in the classroom environment where we give a teacher or any member of the school staff the ability to interact with students in a very easy way and understand what’s going on while a student is using the device as part of a curriculum or using it as part of day-to-day lives.”
Visible Internet was designed with security and privacy first, with the help of Amazon cloud server and employing SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) encryption to protect information from unauthorized access.
Fawaz also revealed that the company is currently developing the AI (artificial intelligence) component of the app about a year ago.
“We’re training our system now to recognize the content on children’s devices,” he said. “Right now the recognition technology that we’ve built can recognize inappropriate websites kids are looking at and are deemed inappropriate, pornography for example at 98-percent accuracy. We then can red flag that content or the system can notify a teacher or parent. It all depends on the administrator and how they set up the system.”
“As we evolve the AI component, it’s all about developing and understanding but also drilling down into the core on what children are thinking about all day,” he said. “There’s a need now to provide an environment or to develop a means technologically where we can help kids make the emotional transition from a child to an adult.”
Visible Internet has over 4,000 family-users in Australia and is also available for download in the Philippines with a monthly subscription of P199. It works on all platforms and on all operating systems.