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New Bedford men create app to alert parents of troubling phone activity

The Social Judo app alerts parents when anything from profanity to pornography is found on their child’s phone.

Two New Bedford men have created a smartphone application to monitor, from a distance, children’s online activity.

"We wanted something to alert us to something bad and not force us to spy," Social Judo co-founder and neurologist Dr. Matthew Phillips said.

Phillips, along with computer engineer Ken Smith, got the idea for the app while at a lacrosse game where children were glued to their phones. Phillips said he, along with many other people he knows, has been personally impacted by troubling online activity.

The philosophy behind judo is to turn your opponent’s force against them. The app alerts parents when anything from profanity to pornography is found on the child’s phone.

"We have nudity algorithms, so if nude images come to that phone, come to photo stream, come to one of to social media accounts or through the internet, parents are alerted," Phillips said.

Users connect the phone to the child’s phone. Alerts can be customized. Call logs and GPS tracking are also available.

The app’s chief parenting expert Andrea DiFilippo said on average in the U.S., children get their first smart phone at about 10 years old. She said parents should work with their children to there is no "parent versus child" mentality.

"As you go through their developmental stages you can back off the limitations you’re setting," DiFilippo said.

DiFilippo holds a live chat on Social Judo’s Facebook page every Thursday at 7:30 p.m. Eastern.

Parent and member of Massachusetts law enforcement Ryan Maltais said the app can prevent both adults and children from getting in serious trouble.

"It'll certainly help parents be alerted prior to it becoming a larger problem or criminal," he said.

Phillips said people from around the world are using the app.

"Cyberspace has been proven to be a real space. Children are getting hurt. They’re being taken advantage of. They’re being in humiliated, cyber-bullied, introduced to drugs," Phillips said. "We are actually actively doing something to prevent bad things from happening."

The neurologist said all tech support is provided by disabled combat veterans.

He said texting and driving should be able to be tracked within the coming weeks.

Social Judo is available on iPhones, Androids, tablets and computers. The first two weeks are free. The app is $15 a month and allows two users to connect to six phones.

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