Researchers at Lancaster University have showcased an app that enables young people to find out if their online peers are really adults masquerading as children.
The Child Defense app has been developed by a team of scientists working at Isis Forensics - a Lancaster University spin out company - with the help of children and parents from the north west of the UK.
Child Defense meticulously scans the language used by online peers, examining discrepancies and inconsistencies in the text based on current user age-group trends. The software also allows users to link into Facebook and Twitter.
James Walkerdine, one of the researchers working on the app, emphasised (opens in new tab): “Nothing can take the place of education and parental supervision when it comes to keeping children safe online. But with more and more young people accessing the web on mobile devices away from home or in the privacy of their rooms we think it is important to give children as many tools as possible to protect them from harm.”
“Our research shows that children find it very difficult to spot adults posing as children on social networks. This software improves children’s chances of working out that something isn’t right. Using state of the art language analysis software it gives children a powerful tool which can help them work out who they are really talking to online,” he said.
The software still needs to undergo final testing, but at release it will be available across iPhone, Android and Nokia mobile platforms.
A video (opens in new tab) of the software in action can be found here.