by Byron Connolly

Anti-cyber-bullying tool creator inks deals with hardware giants

Jan 30, 20133 mins
Education IndustryEnterprise ApplicationsSecurity

ProtectaChild, an Australian company that has built software which helps parents protect their children from cyber-bullying and online predators, has signed agreements with hardware giants Acer and Lenovo to help build sales of the tool.

Launched in mid-2012, the ProtectaChild tool – purchased online for $15 per month – enables parents to monitor their children’s online activity on social networking sites Bebo, Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and YouTube. It provides alerts when their children are followed by adults or become friends with someone who has no other friends in common.

Speaking to CIO Australia, company founder Jason Edwards said the company didn’t get the response it expected from television advertising campaigns last year, prompting a plan to promote the tool through third-parties. ProtectaChild was also featured on popular current affairs program Today Tonight last September.

Edwards declined to reveal how many customers have purchased the ProtectaChild tool since it was launched last year.

Under a new global agreement with Lenovo, the ProtectaChild software will be available from a Lenovo-branded store within the Windows 8 App Store from the second week of February. It will cost $9.95 per month for a licence to protect five children.

Terence Ng, senior business development manager at Lenovo, said people who have purchased a Lenovo computer running the Windows 8 operating system will be able to download the tool.

Meanwhile, Acer will send emails to 500,000 customers this week promoting ProtectaChild, free for three months under a 12 month plan. A second email campaign will be sent out next week to all 10,000 schools across Australia, offering the tool for $9.95 per month for 12 months.

Derek Walker, national education sales manager at Acer, said: “Our devices are out there in the hands of school students, we hear there’s a lot of cyber-bullying going on and want to protect school students against that.”

Walker said ProtectaChild’s “crowd support feature”, which enables parents in a small community to identify a person as a known person in their children’s social networks, was unique.

Members Alliance Education Foundation – which provides a suite of online learning programs and planning and reporting packages for teachers – will provide parents and children with access to ProtectaChild. The non-profit organisation is trialling its new online services with 30 schools across Australia during the first and second school terms of 2013.

The agreements come just two weeks after Julia Gillard announced new government guidelines for handling complaints on social media to help stop cyber-bulling in Australia.

Facebook, Google (including YouTube), Yahoo and Microsoft signed a co-operative arrangement for complaints handling on social networking sites. Twitter is yet to jump on board.

Online bullying is becoming more prevalent and sadly, some young people living in Australia have taken their own lives. In January last year, 14-year-old Melbourne schoolgirl Sheniz Erkan committed suicide after suffering cyber bullying.