New Irish software helps prevent cyberbullying

Some new Irish-designed software was launched today to protect children from mobile phone bullies.

Some new Irish-designed software was launched today to protect children from mobile phone bullies.

The Bully Stop technology allows parents to monitor callers and access abusive text messages before their offspring read them.

The Irish-designed product is the first off-the-shelf application to specifically tackle mobile phone bullying and can be downloaded by computer before being transferred to a child's handset.

Technology specialist Tony Cullen devised the software with his brother Jim after consultations with anti-bullying experts at Trinity College Dublin.

"We know from media reports and child protection agencies that the problem has been getting worse," he said.

"The whole idea is to give parents control over who can and can't contact their children.

"Parents can keep an eye on the kids when they're on the internet or watching TV but with mobile phones they're out of the house and parents have no idea who they're talking to."

Mr Cullen admitted youngsters could take some persuading about the benefits of the software, which is also soon to be available in Spanish, Polish, Chinese, French and German.

"It's similar to a parent reading their kid's diary so I can't see the kids being too happy about it, but it's up to the parents to explain that it's for their own good," the Dubliner added.

Bully Stop's launch comes after Minister for Children Barry Andrews warned about new forms of abuse online and via text messages.

"Mobile phones and text bullying separate the bullier from the bullied and seeing the consequences," the minister said last week.

"The nature of it makes it a little more insidious and worthy of attention."

Mr Andrews was speaking at the publication of the Growing up in Ireland survey which revealed 40% of nine-year-olds were bullied in the past year.

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