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The Duke of Cambridge announces the launch of BBC ‘Own It’ app to help improve young people’s digital wellbeing

The new wellbeing app will support young people taking their first steps online and on social media, to ensure they have a healthy experience online

Today, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge announced the launch of the new BBC ‘Own It’ app. The app, which will be available in early 2019, will combine machine-learning technology with kids self-reporting their own online activity and moods. It will provide advice and support when their behaviour strays outside the norm.

In a speech at the BBC Broadcasting House in London this afternoon, The Duke of Cambridge thanked the BBC for their work on the app. 

‘You are creating a practical, powerful tool to help children use their smartphones and social media with confidence and with safety. I am so proud that this has sprung out of the Cyberbullying Taskforce work. It’s now important that our technology partners get right behind the app to make sure all children can benefit,’ he said.

The ‘Own It’ app will be on-hand to provide young people with instant, on-screen advice and support. This will include:

  • How messages and the use of certain words could be perceived by others, before they hit send
  • Tracking their mood over time – and guidance on how to improve the situation if it’s needed
  • Whether they should share their mobile number on social media and why they might want to think twice before doing so
  • Short, easy to digest information on topics such as using phones late at night and how it affects their wellbeing

‘Ensuring children have a happy and healthy relationship with the internet is an increasingly important issue of our time. We must act for the wellbeing of children - to reduce cyberbullying that can destroy lives - to give children the skills to thrive safely in the online world,’ said BBC Director-General Tony Hall.

The app will also feature specially commissioned content from BBC Own It and from across the BBC, providing resources to help young people get the most of their time online and build healthy online behaviours. The app will help young people and their parents have constructive conversations about their experiences online but won’t provide reports to parents and no data will leave their device.

‘We’re very pleased that the BBC is engaging with children’s Digital Wellbeing,’ said Parent Zone founder and CEO Vicki Shotbolt.

‘There are amazing opportunities for children online, but plenty of challenges too, and children need collaborative, non-prescriptive support to navigate the digital world happily. Parents also need help to practice the kind of authoritative parenting that has a positive impact on children’s wellbeing, so we’re looking forward to hearing how the app helps families negotiate online challenges, practice self-care, and build a better digital environment for everyone,’ said Vicki.

The Duke of Cambridge’s Cyberbullying Taskforce works to raise awareness and offer practical support for children and young people suffering cyberbullying – including the Stop, Speak, Support campaign.

You can read The Duke of Cambridge’s full speech here.

15 November 2018

Image: Kensington Palace Twitter @KensingtonRoyal