Business Idea: Create a Web-based service that helps parents protect their children’s online reputation, privacy, and safety.
Pitch: Parents worry about their kids’ online activity. Cyberbullying, sexual predators stalking children, and the exchange of offensive language and photos are just a few of the online hazards to which children today are commonly exposed. Parents are also aware that their kids can post something online, such as an inappropriate photo, which may hurt them in the future. An increasing number of potential employers, for example, search a job candidate’s online activities before making a job offer. SafetyWeb is a subscription service that helps monitor kids’ online activity. It doesn’t invade their privacy or
snoop in clever ways. Instead, it simply scans for and aggregates the information that a child or teenager has publicly placed online. It’s the same information that parents could find themselves if they had the time and expertise. SafetyWeb simply automates the search process by using its proprietary software and system.
Here’s how it works. At the SafetyWeb Web site, a parent can get a free sample report by entering a child’s e-mail address. The sample report lists all social networking accounts associated with that address and notes which are public accounts and which have been correctly configured as private. To get more in-depth information and enable real-time monitoring, a subscription must be purchased. The base rate is $100 per year or $10 per month. SafetyWeb tracks hundreds of different social networking, photo, commerce, and community sites, and if a parent knows that his or her child is on a site that doesn’t show up on the SafetyWeb report, it can be added. SafetyWeb can also monitor a child’s cell phone activity if the phone is part of a “family plan.” Currently, AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, and Sprint allow SafetyWeb to activate what it calls mobile tracking. This feature logs the number of calls and text messages that a child sends and receives. It can also alert parents when calls are made between 11 P.M. and 5 A.M., and SafetyWeb plans to add an option that will alert parents when a child is “heavily texting or calling” during school hours.
In regard to online activities, SafetyWeb alerts parents about four types of events: informational, positive, negative, and red flag. An example of a positive event is opening a new social networking account configured as private (as opposed to public, which leaves a child much more vulnerable). An example of a warning event is a status post including language that is normally deemed offensive. Red flags are more serious. Opening a new social networking account configured as public is an example. Another example would be a 15-year-old girl friending a 45-year-old man. Status posts with language suggesting risky topics cause red flags by default. Alert categories are: Depression, Adult/Profanity, Bully/Threats, Drugs/Alcohol, Predator/Contact, and Racism/Hate.