ASU developing bullying app for parents - FOX 10 News | fox10phoenix.com

ASU developing bullying app for parents

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PHOENIX (KSAZ) -

About half of teens admit to being bullied online but only one in ten admit to talking to their parents about it. Parents want to make sure their kids aren't victims.  But how do check up without being too nosey? What if you could get an idea of what is going on with your teen without snooping? Soon ASU hopes to have an app for that.

Their stories stunned the nation, a college student outed as gay online then jumping off a New York City bridge, a Florida teen who killed herself after being cyber bullied, those are just some of the tragedies that inspired ASU professor Yasin Silva and a few dedicated students.

"We just ask ourselves if we can do something about it" said Silva.

Silva and his team of students are building lines of code the heart of the cyber bullying monitoring system that will alert parents on their phone if their teen is at risk.

"This is actually something concrete that we can do to help parents and give them information that could potentially stop the problem" said Silva.

So how does it work? The program would scan your child's Facebook page looking for red flags like derogatory comments or bad language. The program crunches all the data to produce a bullying rank, the higher the number the more serious a problem might be.

"The parent will decide to do different actions so some parents may decide to talk to the minor and see what the situation is and what is happening. Some may go ahead and actually open the Facebook account of a minor" said Silva.

And parents can tell the app how often they want an updated bullying rank. Working out of the ASU West campus in Glendale the team hopes to have the program available for download by the end of the Spring semester.

"It is a lot of work but it is very rewarding" said Lisa Tsosie a senior working on the project.

Lisa Tsosie signed onto the project her sophomore year. "The problem is an issue and if I could be involved in something like that I would take the opportunity in a heartbeat" said Tsosie.

Tsosie and the team spent countless hours scouring psychology books trying to create a virtual watchdog that knows how teens interact online, recognizes warning signs, and determines if comments are a threat.

"We're actually looking at the context of the comments... the idea is for it all to be automated so there isn't much work for the parent to do at all" said Tsosie.

Building an app isn't as simple as you may think, it takes time and yes, money.

The team produced a video to help promote the app and started a crowd funding campaign that ended on January 9th. The team wasn't able to reach their goal of raising $10,000 but they are not giving up.

"We definitely want to finish it, even if it is not with all the resources that we have we still plan to go ahead and build the application" said Silva.

There's still plenty of work ahead so they've now started a new fundraising campaign and with the money they hope to speed up the process of bringing this free app to your iPhone.

The app is currently being developed for the iPhone but they hope to also have an Android version too. That's where the fundraising plays a major role. The more money raised the faster they can finish the app.

ASU "Bully Blocker App":
http://asufoundation.org/bullyblocker

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