It doesn't take long to write and share a threat like "I'm going to smash your face in" or worse, but there can be serious consequences for everyone involved. A new app from Pro Juventute steps in before it's too late. The smart keyboard spots when children write offensive comments or have explicit pictures on their phone.
Most children in Switzerland get their first cellphone between the ages of 9 and 12, and it usually causes a fundamental change in their use of media. Today's children spend increasing amounts of time online and on social media and are keen to explore the endless possibilities of the mobile internet, be it on TikTok, YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat or WhatsApp. At this young age, however, most children know little about the risks and dangers this entails, and they naturally don't want to talk to their parents about them.
This is where "wup" (german) comes in. The app, developed by the children's charity Pro Juventute, helps children as they take their first steps into the world of social media and messaging services. As soon as a child has inappropriate pictures on his or her phone or writes an offensive comment, the smart keyboard displays a warning. The app reacts, for example, before a young girl gives out her home address online, a child shares offensive content or a teenager posts explicit selfies. It offers age-appropriate advice in the form of text and videos that teach children about the risks they face, but it doesn't block any content or harvest usage data. Parents, meanwhile, can access a knowledge base with text and video advice designed to help them give their children the best possible support when it comes to phones, social media, and messaging services.
As part of its social engagement, AXA has been supporting Pro Juventute's media skills offering for a number of years, and now it's also a partner of the "wup" app. "Let's be honest, we adults could also benefit from a warning sometimes before leaving a data trail on the internet. Handling our own data responsibly is a challenge for us as well these days, which makes it all the more important to help our kids with this and make them aware of the potential risks at an early stage," says Regula Schenkel, Head of Public Affairs and Sustainability at AXA. "In line with our marketing claim 'Know You Can', we want to contribute to raising children's awareness of the opportunities and risks as soon as they start to stand on their own two feet in the digital world," she adds.
The German-language version of the "wup" app is available now on Google Play for Android devices and in the App Store for iOS devices. The French and Italian versions are scheduled for launch later in 2021.