Good old Auntie Beeb's mobile app berates kids for being rubbish online

TMI, luv. TMI. No, please don't look at Goatse. Stop. STOOOP

The BBC has launched a mobile app – Own It – with a Beeb-approved interface aimed at keeping kids safer online when using baby's first smartphone.

The app's qwerty keyboard is meant to track the child's mood and offer advice as they write. This will include warnings if the app decides a child is sharing too much information or sending something potentially abusive. It will also offer links to advice and help sites "if their behaviour strays outside safe and sensible norms".

This is all done by the magic of machine learning, but the blurb on the Play Store promises: "Everything you type is kept completely private, and never leaves the Own It app on your phone."

The app also throws in a mental health and wellbeing diary for the kid to fill, which tracks their emotions and raises security and bullying concerns.

The app links to other content from the BBC and the Own It website, which offers advice on gaming, vlogging, privacy, staying safe online and where to get help if you have a problem. It also provides a service where youngsters explain online lingo to us oldies: On fleek? V-bucks? Bae??

The app has some high-profile backers from the Duke of Cambridge's taskforce on cyberbullying.

Javed Khan, chief exec of children's charity Barnardo's, said when the app was first announced: "We welcome the development of an app that encourages children to think carefully about what they do online, and how long they spend doing it... Children are navigating multiple risks online including cyber-bullying, gaming addiction and grooming.

"Our specialist services see first-hand the harm this can cause – from sexual abuse and exploitation, to mental health problems. Technology companies need to do much more to protect children online, and both schools and parents play a vital role in helping children stay safe."

Initially due to arrive in "early 2019", Own It was launched this week on Google's Play Store and has yet to be reviewed despite over 500 downloads.

Hat-tip to Reg reader Richard for alerting us to this. He unkindly suggested that the BBC's track record on child protection made it the last organisation he would want reading his kids' conversations. ®

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