Worried that your child may be being secretly groomed on the Internet by a predatory paedophile? Well, you can take a breather as scientists have developed a new mobile phone application that helps identify adults posing as children.
The software, Child Defence, enables children to scan web chat on their mobile phones to check the age of people they are messaging, reports the Daily Mail.
AdvertisementThe software has been written by researchers at Isis Forensics, a spin out company based in Lancaster University.
The software uses the latest advances in language analysis technology to identify language quirks peculiar to different age groups.
By analysing the language of users in detail, the application enables children to build up profiles-including the potential age-of individuals who they are chatting to online.
It can also link in with websites such as Facebook and Twitter, allowing children to scan chat text from their site.
However, the child protection charity NSPCC said the application does not offer total protection from online paedophiles and warned parents not to be complacent.
Chris Cloke, head of child protection said, "It can lull us into thinking that the child is safe and therefore we can move onto something else."
"I would certainly say that measures of this sort can be helpful but they need to be seen as one of the wider armoury we have for tackling child sexual abuse," she said.
The software is currently undergoing final testing before being made freely available as iPhone, Google and Nokia phone apps.
James Walkerdine, project leader at Child Defence, said research shows that children find it very difficult to spot adults posing as children on social networks.
"Nothing can take the place of education and parental supervision when it comes to keeping children safe online.
"But with more and more young people accessing the web on mobile devices away from home or in the privacy of their rooms we think it is important to give children as many tools as possible to protect them from harm," he said.