Israeli software helps protect children online

Tue Jun 14, 2011 6:54am EDT
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By Tova Cohen

TEL AVIV (Reuters Life!) - Software developed by an Israeli start-up could help concerned parents protect their children from potential predators and cyber bullies online.

The software from United Parents, which can be downloaded for free onto the child's computer, sends parents an alert by email or text message when suspicious relationships or activities are detected.

Computer algorithms analyze children's interactions on Facebook -- within 10 days the service will also be able to track interactions over MSN Messenger.

"Parents probably know about one of two email accounts or nicknames the child uses but often there are other accounts they don't know about," co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Hanan Lavy told Reuters. "We give the parents the information and they choose what to do with it."

When suspicious interactions are detected an alert will direct parents to United Parents' website where they can get more information and advice about what to do next.

Lavy said the service protects children's privacy more than other products that save chat logs and screen captures and require parents to wade through masses of information.

United Parents does not share with parents private content and dialogues, only the analysis done by a computer algorithm that is also capable of deciphering the chat lingo used by children that is often unfamiliar to adults.

A Consumer Reports survey released in May found that millions of children use Facebook without supervision, exposing themselves to serious threats from predators and bullies.   Continued...