Bullying is no longer as simple as having your lunch stolen at school, or having your path blocked by a group of bullies as you make your way to the school library. As difficult as those experiences are and were, the bullied victim usually had some respite when at home with family and friends.
Now, a child can be bullied around the clock, through nasty emails, social media snubs and late night text messages with troubling content. Children and teenagers increasingly have their devices with them, which means that cyber-bulling can be a constant threat. The bullies can reach into the child’s safe spaces, giving them no break from the relentless attacks.
I have an open and honest relationship with my teenage children when it comes to smart phones, the use of social media and the wider internet. But although this is helpful, vital even, the reality is that I can’t stay on top of absolutely every part of online life.
On my recent trip to Israel, I met up with a bunch of entrepreneurial mums in a hip suburb in Tel Aviv, and we discussed this very topic. One of them, Esther Liebersohn Namer, is a mother of three and an activist for children and teens that are facing bullying. I connected with this amazing woman immediately, and was full of admiration for her work against online shaming and cyber-bullying. As part of her campaigning, she has met more than 50,000 children in Israel, to talk with them about social media and mobile phone safety.
“I was exposed to hundreds of stories about cyber-bullying, body and fat shaming, sexual harassment, paedophiles, and humiliating photos being shared without a child’s permission… I was heartbroken,” she shared with me.
“I understood that the world had changed. When I was a kid, I used to write in a diary. It was locked so I assumed my mother wouldn’t read it… She did of course!”
“Now we have to realise that the new diary in our kids’ lives is the mobile phone.”
A unique solution to a complex problem.
Online bullying is commonplace for thousands of kids, and this led to the of the development of the Bosco app by Enon Landenberg as Founder and Esther Liebersohn Namer as Co Founder and CEO. It works as a platform to alert parents of potentially suspect content, bullying indicators and deviation from regular routines.
“The dangers, the risks that kids are facing and the helplessness parents are experiencing is what brought Bosco to the table,” Esther explained.
“Children need to feel safe and secure, but also have the freedom to thrive and develop their independence. That’s why we invented Bosco, as a unique solution to a complex problem.”
The new diary in our kids’ lives is the mobile phone
Essentially, Bosco collates the following information and alerts parents when necessary about:
Battery status: Bosco will alert parents when the child’s battery is less than 15%.
Child’s location and main addresses: parents will receive notification about when a child is leaving/arriving to and from familiar locations.
Device availability: Bosco will alert parents when the child’s device isn’t available.
Inappropriate content: Bosco will alert parents when inappropriate content is detected in a child’s device, including data items like photos, as research has shown that teenagers send more images than text.
Mood analysis by voice: Bosco will build the child’s voice profile and alert the parent when the child’s mood seems stressed or sad.
Social network activity: Bosco will alert the parent when a child has been blocked or unfriended from social networks (Facebook, Instagram & Twitter) by three or more friends, which can indicate deliberate shunning or boycotting.
Coming soon: text analysis from Whats App, Whats App group activity analysis and social activity analysis from SnapChat.
As Esther described the app to me, I was initially worried about the invasion of a child’s privacy, but Esther reassured me that this application was very different to the other parental control apps on the market.
“While other parental applications reveal all the information to the parent, we only alert the parent when his or her help is needed,” Esther said.
“For example, when Bosco alerts a parent that an inappropriate data item has been detected, to see the full picture, the parent must approach their child directly about it.”
“Secondly, Bosco is not downloaded on a child’s device without him or her knowing about it. The download should take place while having a conversation with your child, explaining the reasons why this app is important.”
Esther has seen the app work in her own family, with her eldest daughter Abigail receiving some inappropriate images on her phone from classmates.
“One time, when coming back from work, I got an email from my daughter’s teacher about some unkind photos that were being sent around. At the same moment, Bosco sent me an alert that indicated inappropriate data had been found on Abigail’s phone. I went to her room and asked her about it. She showed me the pictures and we had a talk about it,” she said.
It doesn’t replace any of our duties as parents, but it empowers us and our kids.
As a mother and an activist, Esther is genuinely passionate about preventing bullying, to help curb the incidence of social isolation, eating disorders, and even suicide, all of which can result from persistent bullying.
“I truly believe in what we have accomplished,” Esther emphasised. “Every little feature of this app was tailor-made, in response to the horrible situations that I heard that kids are facing every day.”
“It doesn’t replace any of our duties as parents, but it empowers us and our kids. Kids don’t always know how to ask for help and this is something they should learn from us.”
Yes to that.
Bosco, the first parental intelligence awareness technology that gives parents actionable insights without invading their child’s privacy, is available for free for a limited time. Currently, Android and iOS apps are available to parents, and Android only are available for kids. Bosco is available in 11 different languages, including Chinese, Japanese and Indonesian.
For more information about Bosco, please visit www.boscoapp.com or watch this short video: