Stop Cyberbullying With My Mobile Watchdog

my-mobile-watchdogIf you’re a parent who has ever wished there was a spam folder for unwanted and unauthorized mobile phone texts and photos, a new mobile application (app) called My Mobile Watchdog is here to help screen your children’s calls and stop unwanted cyberbullying. Robert Lotter, CEO of eAgency Mobile Solutions, developed My Mobile Watchdog (MMWD) as a way for parents to monitor what apps, sites, and communication their children is having with the outside world in order.  We interviewed Lotter for his thoughts on cyberbullying and how My Mobile Watchdog can combat it. 

How would you describe cyberbullying? How is it different from regular bullying?

Bullying can be defined as an act of intimidation against a weaker person to make them do something.  In the past, the bully was usually physically or mentally stronger than the one being bullied.   However, in this world of computers and  modern technology, cyberbullying means intimidating another person online through emails, mobile phone text messages, digital pictures, and social media sites such as Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter.  Cyberbullying can make a child feel overwhelmed, as if the entire world is against them when, in reality, it is only the universe of school.

What are some facts about cyberbullying?

In September 2006, ABC News reported a survey prepared by I-Safe.Org. This survey focused on 1,500 students between grades 4-8.  42% of the kids said they were bullied while online (1 in 4 students), 35% said they were threatened online (nearly 1 in 5 students), and 21% said they received mean or threatening e-mails or other messages.

How did the idea for My Mobile Watchdog come about?

I was involved in community volunteer work associated with the sheriff’s department when  I was approached by a law enforcement friend who asked for assistance in a case about an 11-year-old child.  This little girl vacationing in California was approached by a 29-year-old man at a water park.  He convinced her to share cell phone numbers and then started sending her inappropriate photos of himself and soliciting inappropriate photos in return.  Out of this case was born RADAR, the law enforcement version of My Mobile Watchdog.  

What is your target kid age group for using My Mobile Watchdog?

MMWD is for children from 8 to 16, but we have younger and older children using the service. 

Since parents can track their children’s cell phones using your application, are you concerned some kids or teens might feel parents will use it as an excuse to invade their privacy?

MMWD has a built-in privacy function that allows parents to approve certain contacts.  Once a contact is approved, parents will no longer receive real time alerts or copies of messages, rendering conversations private. Parents receive alerts only when a disapproved contact or stranger communicates with their child.

My Mobile Watchdog is geared toward Blackberries and Smartphones.  For budget-conscious parents who can’t afford to purchase an unlimited texting plan, Smartphones, and the app, what mobile advice would you give them to guard against cyberbullying? 

MMWD is being released on over 25 “premium” (in between regular and smart) cell phones on the Verizon network, but there really is no easy way to make a service like this work on a regular cell phone.  If the child is not using a Smartphone the risks are less, but we still have sexting, cyberbullying, etc., so I recommend parents make a conscious effort to look at the pictures and texts on their child’s phones.  Children can delete texts and pictures and the networks will not provide copies, but this is the best method on regular phones.

How are cyberbullying protection features such as My Mobile Watchdog benefiting kids and adults?

We received emails about two MMWD accounts trying to be activated.  When we called the parents, they didn’t know who we were until it became apparent their children had signed themselves up for MMWD to reassure their parents of cell phone safety.  Another child first protested having MMWD on the phone, but after a month decided having MMWD was better than not having a phone.  He told his friends to stop sending inappropriate pictures and texts because his mom monitored the phone.

The most important concern parents have is, “Who is my child talking to?”  MMWD allows parents to be notified the very first moment a stranger texts, emails, calls or sends a picture to their child.  It actually happens close to real time.  The parent is able to take immediate action to find out more about the stranger and to know what is being communicated to their child.

>> Read tips and advice from Parents.com about dealing with bullies.

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  1. [...] for unwanted and unauthorized mobile phone texts and photos, a new mobile application (app) called My Mobile Watchdog is here to help screen your children’s calls and stop unwanted cyberbullying. Robert Lotter, CEO [...]

  2. [...] How to Guard Against Cyberbullying [...]

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