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- Attend a monthly Lunch & Learn event
The Newest Way To Stop Cyber-Bullying
Jan 16, 2011
Thought unplugging was the only answer? The latest software allows parents to block unwanted texts and emails.
Parents will soon have a formidable new weapon in the war against cyberbullying, sexting and other inappropriate messages sent to their kids. A free filtering program will let parents track both questionable e-mails and cellphone text messages. Mousemail, which launches Thursday at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, filters e-mail for improper words and unknown contacts and forwards dubious messages to a parent's account. Parents can send them on to their child or not.
The system is "designed to help a parent manage their child's relationship with the Internet and their relationship, in turn, to their child," says Les Ottolenghi, chairman of the board of Safe Communications.
MouseMail's free Web-based e-mail features will be available Thursday at MouseMail.com; the free text message filtering applications will launch that day on most major smartphones, with Apple iPhone expected to add the app soon. Later this month, a premium service will be added (no price set) that monitors social networks and lets parents look for mentions of their kids' names.
MouseMail is not the first software attempt at thwarting cyberbullying; others include CyberBullyAlert.com and SocialShield.com. But its creators aim to make it the most multifaceted.
While teaching a course at Emory University several years ago, Ottolenghi met students who were being bullied online from across the country. "It became personal to me. ... I saw the magnitude of it, and then I have got a kid. I don't want them to be under this kind of problem." As bullying expanded to social networks and websites, he and Safe CEO John Venners expanded their original plan of handling only e-mail. "Cyberbullying has become almost a silent form of terrorism," Venners says.
How will the kids react to such monitoring? "Some kids are going to complain," says James Steyer of the non-profit Common Sense Media. "But saying 'no' and imposing limits has been an essential element of parenting, and kids have been complaining about their parents a long time and will do so for the next 250 years. There's no simple technology solution that will solve all these issues."