Cyberbullying alert app for parents made in Thunder Bay

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Parents can now receive email alerts if their children are cyberbullied, through an app created by a group of Thunder Bay, Ont., software developers.

The BullyGuard app monitors text messages for words and phrases that might raise red flags and emails parents if anything turns up, co-creator Adrien Ladouceur told CBC.

“So say it’s your son or daughter [and] they’re texting someone. The word ‘suicide’ came up. The parent would get an email saying, ‘Hey, this word was flagged … This is the time that it came up. This is the person who it was sent to or it was sent from. Maybe you should know about that.'”

The app does not save or forward the text message itself.

“The parent would need to talk to the child or go and read the text on the original device to find out the nature of the conversation,” Ladouceur said.

 

BullyGuard monitors text messages on children’s mobile devices and emails parents if any words or phrases raise red flags. (bullyguard.org)

“We don’t look to determine if it’s a big issue or not. We’re just trying to make sure there’s that early warning system, [and] that the parent is always kept in the loop of what’s going on.

“In the end, you’re not going to find a computer program that will stop cyberbulling. The only thing that can stop cyberbullying is communication,” Ladouceur said.

He noted “the problem is much bigger than what happens on the device.

“The problem is the people who need to know aren’t in the know. Bullying happens when people, who try to do something about it, don’t know about it.”​

In addition to monitoring text messages, the app notifies parents if Bully Guard has been disabled.