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

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

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.

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“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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Copyright 2017 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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