My name is Dannielle Lee and I am the Cyber Protect Officer for South Yorkshire Police. Part of my role is to help people keep safe online – something which is particularly important at the moment with the internet being used more and more due to the ongoing Covid-19 situation. We need to make sure we are safe, secure and educating others who may need extra help and support while spending time online.
This is especially important for children. With this in mind, I would recommend parents and guardians have a look at a BBC app called Own It ahead of your child’s return to school. The app, which anyone can use but it's designed for children aged 8-13, offers advice and guidance in real time as your child chats to their friends online, and so helps kids to enjoy the internet and connect with friends much more safely. I’ve included some further information below from the BBC.
What is the BBC Own It app?
The Own It app will provide a helping hand to your child, supporting their digital wellbeing, showing them how to make smarter and better informed choices and helping them grow into confident, positive and happy digital citizens. Using a combination of self-reporting and ‘machine learning’, the app builds up a picture of your child’s digital wellbeing and serves relevant information designed to help your child understand the impact that their online behaviours can have on themselves, and on others, helping them to develop healthy online habits and behaviours, and also encouraging your child to have conversations with you when they are feeling sad or worried.
Throughout September, the app features a collection of tips and tools to support children as they begin the new school year, whether it’s advice on re-connecting with friends or transitioning to secondary school. Safety tips for posting online or encouraging kids to note and reflect on their feelings – the BBC Own It app has got them covered.
How does it work?
There are two parts to the app. The first is a custom keyboard. When the child uses the keyboard, the information they type is analysed in real time and the Own It app uses it to build up a picture of your child’s activity. Based on this picture, the app will recommend content to the child that might be helpful, or it might intervene as the child is typing something to check that they are happy to share the information with others. For example if your child is typing some personal information such as a mobile number or email address, the app will intervene and tell the child to ‘think safe’ before sharing. Or if a child types something that might be an unkind message, the app will intervene and ask them if they really want to say that. If a child types something that indicates they might be sad or worried, the app will intervene and suggest some content that might help them to feel better.
The child is also encouraged to ‘self-report’ how they are feeling within the app itself by selecting an emoji that best reflects their mood. They can also choose to leave a note, just as they might in a diary. The app will also be able to track some device usage information, such as how many times a child picks up their phone to check for messages / notifications, or if the phone is used at night-time. This information can be used to help the child understand how to develop healthy digital habits.
What happens to the information my child types using the keyboard?
Everything your child types into the keyboard is processed within the app on your child’s phone by the machine learning and then discarded – this happens instantaneously. None of this information is ever passed back to the BBC.
Where can I get the app?
The BBC Own It app is available in the Googleplay and Apple app stores and it’s free to download. For more information go to https://www.bbc.com/ownit and a quick video about it is on https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p06m32sw
I hope this is helpful – good luck to all children heading back to school!