Website Helps Parents Monitor Facebook

Software scans children's social-networking activity for inappropriate posts

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A North Texas company has developed a tool to help parents monitor their children's social networking activity for language, cyberbullying, sexting and violence. (Published Tuesday, Feb 19, 2013)

    A North Texas company has developed a tool to help parents monitor their children's social networking activity for language, cyberbullying, sexting and violence.

    Mitch Butler, co-founder of Anna-based Image Vision, said development of Eye Guardian began as an anti-sexting effort after he saw his then-13-year-old daughter's cellphone receive an unsolicited and disturbing photo text message.

    “It was a group text from a boy at school that had an inappropriate text and image," he said. "My immediate reaction was one of amazement, disgust."

    Several years later, the software is now in the hands of more than 10,000 users, mostly parents who use it help navigate their child’s use of Facebook.

    "We look at the images and messages and friends," he said. "Here are images that might be suspect. Here is text that may have curse words."

    Eye Guardian markets itself as the only product of its kind that rapidly filters through images and videos, basically in real time.

    Every 24 hours, parents receive a chart of their child’s social networking activity, including images, friends and posts that may be of a questionable nature.

    Butler said the goal is to start a conversation between parent and child about social networking use.

    "Really, the goal is to provide parents a tool to help them help their kids be safer on Facebook," he said.

    Image Vision is also taking the technology a step further and developing gun and weapon recognition to sort through potentially violent postings.

    "It's something we're coming out with, gun recognition," Butler said. "Not that a gun is necessarily as an image is bad or good, but if you can connect that with other activities that they’re posting, it could be insight into maybe this is someone who is getting ready to harm themselves."

    Filtering such posts by context is key, such as the ability to sift through words and pictures to separate a family hunting trip from a potential threat.

    Butler said school districts have begun to consult with his company about its technology as well.

    Eye Guardian can be accessed from any Internet-connected device.

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