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The Duke of Cambridge backs new cyberbullying app

Photo: Charlie Proctor/Royal Central

The BBC has launched ‘Own It,’ an app to help with children’s mental health online, and the Duke of Cambridge is lending his support.

The Royal Foundation’s cyberbullying taskforce provided input for the new app. It is designed to combine “machine-learning technology with the ability to keep a diary of their emotions to allow children the chance to record how they’re feeling and why,” according to a BBC press release.

The app gives kids instant help and support, and “can even recognise language that might suggest a child is in trouble and will offer them advice and encourage them to talk to a trusted adult.”

“It is fantastic the BBC has launched an app which will provide support to young people as they navigate the online world,” the Duke of Cambridge said. “I am delighted to see this positive and practical outcome resulting from The Royal Foundation Taskforce on the Prevention of Cyberbullying.”

The BBC said that their special Own It keyboard shows up wherever a keyboard would appear normally to give children “real-time, in-the-moment help and advice on whatever a child is typing, for example, if a child is typing something which might be upsetting to the person receiving it. It can also recognise if a child types personal details and reminds them to think twice about whether it is safe to share.”

The app does not give any sort of feedback or reports to parents but does encourage young people to have open conversations with their caregivers about online experiences.

The app also includes specially commissioned content from the BBC to give children the tools to develop healthy behaviours online and boost digital wellbeing. 

Alice Webb, Director of BBC Children and Education, said: “The digital world is a fantastic place for people to learn and share, but we know many young people struggle to find a healthy online balance, especially when they get their first phones. Our Own It app gives them a helping hand as they navigate this new experience so that they can make the most of the time they spend on their phones whilst avoiding some of the pitfalls. We’re using cutting edge machine learning technology in a way no one has done before, putting help, support, assistance and a bit of fun too directly into young people’s hands at the moments when they need it most.”   

The Duke of Cambridge launched the Royal Foundation’s cyberbullying taskforce in 2016 to find new ways to reduce online bullying. The taskforce is comprised of charities and major names in media, gaming, and social media such as The Diana Award, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Google, The Anti-Bullying Alliance, Apple, Virgin Media, and more.

About author

Kristin is Chief Reporter for Royal Central and has been following the British royal family for more than 30 years. Kristin has appeared in UK and U.S. media outlets discussing the British royals including BBC Breakfast, BBC World News, Sky News, the Associated Press, TIME, The Washington Post, and many others.