Many online privacy experts have said that the best way for parents to keep their kids safe online is to encourage open communication within your household.
VISR, an online safety app, aims to make parents aware of the wide array of issues their children might be dealing with online. VISR CEO Robert Reichmann said:
“Kids today are dealing with a number of issues at a much earlier age than ever before, that they are often in able of facing – whether its bullying, drugs, sexting, or mental health issues.
On the flip side, parents are increasingly removed from what the issues are. VISR is designed to be able to connect users around those issues.”
The app was developed in Toronto and provides parents with insight into their kids’ online lives. The developers of the app are careful to note that the application is not intended for surveillance purposes, however, it is intended to make parents aware. In a statement to Global News, Reichmann said:
“Parents don’t know what the issues are or when they are happening. It’s easy to say, have a conversation with your kids, but they don’t know what to have a conversation about or the appropriate time to have the conversation. This will give them the opportunity.”
VISR allows you to add your children’s accounts to your in-app profile and receive alerts about their online activity. The app currently supports online services like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, and Gmail.
The app uses various algorithms to analyze your child’s online activity and will report potential red flags. As a parent, you will receive a notification if your child posts something that the app flags as worrisome. VISR will flag content that includes explicit language or images, violent language, or content that could indicate mental health problems.
VISR also learns as you interact with its alerts. For instance, when a parent receives an alert they have the option to mark it as a “Real Issue,” “False Alarm,” or “I don’t care.” If a parent marks an alert as a “Real Issue,” the app will then suggest ways to start a discussion with their child.
In order to use the app you will not need access to your child’s account or password, and you will only receive a notification about a post if VISR flags it.
“Your activity is completely private. We only notify parents if we spot a potential problem. We don’t spy on you. We don’t know your password. We’re not installed on your phone.”
The company behind the app has recently partnered with a number of child safety and child help organizations.
VISR is available as a free download from the App Store. The app requires any device running iOS 6.0 or later and has been optimized for the iPhone 5, 6, and 6 Plus.