New App Aims To Protect Kids From Sexting
A new app, 'Gallery Guardian', promises to protect children from indecent images by alerting their parents if they are sending or receiving explicit pictures on their phones.
The app analyses each photo that a child takes or receives using an image recognition algorithm. If nudity is detected, it sends a notification to the parents by letting them know without storing or disclosing the image.
"All monitoring happens without us having access to the images and we aren't able to provide the parent with the image in question," the company says on its website.
The software is developed by YIPO Technologies. Parents who are interested must sign up to a waiting list and they will find out when it's ready to download.
"Gallery Guardian looks through all current and future images on your child's device and notifies you in real time," the company says. But to take advantage of it, parents will have to both download the app themselves and get their kid to do the same.
There are some more pressing issues with the new technology, too, as there are questions over its accuracy. The BBC tested the app with 20 sexually explicit images.
"Twelve were immediately detected," they reported. "But eight were missed." Getting accused of sending nudes if you were just an innocent kid would be pretty shit.
It'd be up there with getting caught stealing your parent's whisky and filling it up with water in an attempt to mask the act. The test also had one false positive (it was a normal pic of some kids playing on a beach) which shows that the new technology is currently far from perfect.
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Is sexting amongst underagers really such a big problem that parents need to use an app to indirectly spy on their kid's private life?
According to Childline, yes. Last year, Childline reported that the number of children it counselled due to issues surrounding sexting increased by 15 percent - to almost 1,400. New stats, provided to The Times under the Freedom of Information Act, revealed that 25 police forces had investigated nearly 3,500 cases involving sexting among under-18s over a four-year period. But they only charged 51 suspects.
Humberside Police, in Yorkshire, have become so concerned with the issue that, in April, they felt compelled to issue guidance for parents. "We're urging parents to talk to their children about the dangers of sexting," they said. "As it could lead to embarrassment, blackmail or even a criminal record."
"I realised how widely children as young as eight were sharing these inappropriate images," the founder of the new app, 50-year-old Londoner Daniel Skowronski, told the Daily Mail. "This app brings parents peace of mind that there is technology working for them and watching everything their child is doing."
Although some people may argue that children should be given the space to explore their own relationships, you can't blame parents for wanting to protect their kids. And with so
many under-18s becoming the victim of bullying and blackmail as the result of sexting, it's difficult to argue with Gallery Guardian's sentiment.