It is no secret that Facebook is the predominant way in which children connect with one another. Being on Facebook is seemingly vital to making friends in the 21st century. The landscape of social life has changed dramatically in less than a decade and though the net benefit seems to be positive, there are still concerns on the part of parents. Most important among those concerns is the ease with which anyone can contact a child over a social network without parents knowing and being able to make the character assessments they would otherwise have the opportunity to make. To address those anxieties, Chit Chat for Facebook has teamed up with United Parents Child Protective Services to provide Facebook parental controls to Facebook interactions.
Chit Chat for Facebook is a Windows OS application that allows Facebook instant messaging functionality from the desktop. The software has been widely praised for its ease of use, seamless integration, and the array of features it adds to Facebook chatting. To add to its long list of positive accoutrements, the maker of Chit Chat, Athena IT Limited, has partnered with United Parents to provide enhanced security to online chatting.
United Parents is a unique offering with its roots in the concerns of several parents for how safe their own children were online. The idea for social network security software arose out of a need to protect children from unsavory elements that could be encountered online while still respecting the child’s privacy. The result is a combination of four features that make up United Parents Child Protection Service, each of which helps parents to look after their children online in much the same way they would in any other situation.
The first of the features offered by United Parents is the Child’s Summary Dashboard. The Dashboard gives access to a continuously updated analysis of a child’s internet behavior. This includes parameters such as the total time online, the time periods that the child is online, demographic information about the people communicating with the child, and the top subjects discussed. Importantly, details of conversations are not included so as to protect the child’s privacy. The Dashboard provides a way for parents to get to know the people who are communicating their children as well as understand the basic topics that are being discussed. In essence, the Child’s Summary Dashboard substitutes for what used to be face-to-face meetings with the friends and acquaintances.
The second and third features fit together nicely and include alerts sent via text or email as well as monthly snapshots reports of the most common activity engaged in by the child during the month. Again, the idea is not to eavesdrop or limit a child’s freedom, but rather to be engaged in the child’s life and aware of what the child is doing. The entire system is designed to give an overview of activities, no different than knowing who a child is playing with or how long a teen will be at the mall with friends. The system is designed to alert parents to potentially dangerous situations, particularly threats that a child may not recognize. This approach affords parents an opportunity to have open conversations with their children that can help the children recognize danger and act accordingly. The emphasis on the parent-child relationship is one of the major reasons that Chit Chat makers chose to partner with United Parents.
The most important element of the child internet safety tool United Parents, and the one that makes it a leader in online security, is Digital Graphology. Digital Graphology is a system of creating profiles based on sentence construction, grammar, phrasing, and other behavior to identify individuals to a high degree of accuracy. These profiles are stored in a database and can identify a person no matter what screen name the person uses or where the person logs on from. This means the digital fingerprint of anyone communicating online with a child can be compared to a database of predators and bullies. Any match results in an immediate alert to parents.
One of the brilliant things about Digital Graphology with United Parents is that it learns over time. That means it is constantly being updated to provide the most accurate assessments possible. What is more, the more people that use the system, the more accurate it will be and the faster it will accumulate records on potential threats. Like all of the features offered by United Parents, Digital Graphology incorporates parents and children into the fold, making the whole system more of a community than a product.
The team behind the Facebook desktop client, Chit Chat for Facebook clearly understands the concerns of parents in protecting their children from online danger as well as parents’ interests in respecting their children’s privacy. This common goal between parents, Chit Chat for Facebook, and United Parents leads to a natural partnering between the three. Chit Chat and United Parents are interested in building the parent-child relationship by providing customizable tools for parents, a philosophy that recognizes that each family’s approach to safety is unique and which goes to great lengths to protect those distinctions.