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New app promises to put an end to cyberbullying in schools

A new app based on artificial intelligence (AI) technology hopes to put an end to cyberbullying in UK schools.

The app is based on the research by the University of Gloucestershire which has been researching how AI could help. University researchers have teamed up with the charity The Cyber Trust to launch SpeakOut! – which promises to help young people access the internet safely.

The news comes amid growing concerns of an increase in cyberbullying among children in schools. Recent research has identified that more than a quarter (27%) of 12-18 year olds have experienced cyberbullying.

SpeakOut! provides real life examples covering a variety of dilemmas and then uses AI to offer a choice before moving onto the next part of the story. At the end you’re given a score that shows whether your decisions are positive, neutral or potentially negative. The app also supports young people with a range of common concerns, including body-image and sexting.

Zayd Dawood, Senior Lecturer in Computing Technologies at the University of Gloucestershire, commented: “These are just some of the leading causes of anxiety and depression among young people today, according to our findings, and SpeakOut! has already achieved 350 downloads.”

The team behind the work is calling on young people to get in touch with The Cyber Trust to securely share details of their own cyber experiences to help others make the right choices.

Dr Qublai Ali Mirza, Senior Lecturer in Cyber Security within the University’s School of Computing and Engineering, said: “The rise in social media and the two-year lockdown we all experienced during the Covid-19 pandemic has caused a real shift in the way people communicate, and this is particularly true for children and young people.

“Our latest research is using AI tools and techniques to detect, prevent, and respond to cyberbullying using Natural Language Processing (NLP) and predictive modelling.”

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