BBC launches ‘digital wellbeing’ Own It app for children

The BBC has created a “wellbeing” app called Own It aimed at children.

It monitors how young people interact with friends and family online and through messaging apps and uses AI to evaluate a child’s mood so it can offer advice or encourage them to talk to trusted adults.

The app is designed to offer help and support especially if children are about to share sensitive data or send an upsetting message. It aims to support children be happier and positive with life online.

The app, which features a special keyboard, combines 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. In response, the app can offer help and support, giving advice if their behaviour strays outside safe and sensible norms. Children can access the app at any time to get instant, on-screen advice and support the moment they need it.

The BBC Own It special keyboard will appear wherever a keyboard would surface normally – and offers 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. It 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.

The app will give young people a range of resources to help them make the most of their time online and build healthy online behaviours and habits, including managing screen-time to boosting digital wellbeing.

It will encourage young people to have conversations with their parents, but it won’t provide reports or feedback to parents and the data doesn’t leave the child’s phone.

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

The app has been developed with input and support from many of the organisations and individuals that made up The Duke of Cambridge’s Cyberbullying Taskforce.