ASU's 'BullyBlocker' offers parents free cyberbullying detection on the App Store

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ASU team develops an app to fight bullying. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5 News) ASU team develops an app to fight bullying. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5 News)
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

It is an alarming stat: surveys show more than half of all kids and teens have been bullied online, and most victims of cyberbullying do not tell their parents.

A team at Arizona State University released an app this month that can help parents fight back with artificial intelligence.

It's called BullyBlocker.

The free app scans a child’s Facebook account for signs of cyberbullying and evaluates their overall risk based on factors that have been backed up by research.

"If the minor belongs to a certain race or ethnicity, or if the minor has recently changed their gender, or if the person is going from middle school to high school, there is supporting research that says the probability of cyberbullying can be increasing," said Associate Professor Yasin Silva of the ASU School of Math and Natural Sciences.

The app was developed on ASU's West campus, and features a collaboration between computer scientists and psychologists.

"There is a strong positive correlation between cyber bullying victimization and depression, poor self-esteem, increased anxieties, behavioral problems, absences from school, poor school achievement and suicidal ideations – suicidal thoughts," said Deborah Hall, an assistant professor in the ASU School of Social and Behavioral Sciences.

Once the app does its analysis (this may take a few minutes), it tells parents how many “bullies” have commented on the child’s Facebook in the last 90 days. Bullies are people who use certain key words in their posts.

It also gives the parent an overall risk score from one to 100, and will soon offer specific websites catered to the type of bullying the child is confronting.

For example, if the child is being insulted because of their weight or weight.

[RELATED: Gilbert dad's message to son about bullying goes viral]

“We can identify why this happening and then we can sort or rank the resources, so we can provide the parent with the best resources at the top of the list," said Silva.

Silva says the team will continue to update and improve the app. They received a grant from the National Science Foundation this month.

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Derek StaahlDerek Staahl is an Emmy Award-winning reporter and fill-in anchor who loves covering stories that matter most to Arizona families.

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Derek Staahl

This once-uncompromising "California guy" got his first taste of Arizona in 2015 while covering spring training baseball for his former station. The trip spanned just three days, but Derek quickly decided Phoenix should be his next address. He joined CBS 5 and 3TV four months later, in August 2015. Before packing his bags for the Valley of the Sun, Derek spent nearly four years at XETV in San Diego, where he was promoted to Weekend Anchor and Investigative Reporter. Derek chaired the Saturday and Sunday 10 p.m. newscasts, which regularly earned the station's highest ratings for a news program each week. Derek’s investigative reporting efforts into the Mayor Bob Filner scandal in 2013 sparked a "governance crisis" for the city of San Diego and was profiled by the region’s top newspaper. Derek broke into the news business at WKOW-TV in Madison, WI. He wrote, shot, edited, and presented stories during the week, and produced newscasts on the weekends. By the end of his stint, he was promoted to part-time anchor on WKOW’s sister station, WMSN. Derek was born in Los Angeles and was named the “Undergraduate Broadcast Journalism Student of the Year” in his graduating class at USC. He also played quads in the school’s famous drumline. When not reporting the news, Derek enjoys playing drumset, sand volleyball, and baseball.

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