Young Sharjah students develop child mobile phone monitoring app

Three students’ project helps parents monitor and block children’s Smart Phone usage.

A group of students from the American University of Sharjah’s Department of Computer Science and Engineering have developed a Smartphone Monitoring Application for parents, to help them monitor their children’s use of mobile phones and put checks and balances on their online activities, instant messaging and browsing history using smart phones.

The Smartphone Monitoring System, jointly developed by Abdelaziz Alzarooni, Salama Alfalasi and Nihal Abdul Nasser, AUS students as part of their sixth semester project work, was supervised by Dr. Tamer Shanableh.  The App developers claim that any parent can access the front or back camera of their children’s phone any time and take pictures using the Smartphone Monitoring Application or check their WiFi status to call history or the time they spend on dubious applications.

Speaking to Emirates 24|7, Nihal Abdulla Abdul Naser, student of American University of Sharjah (Computer Science), said he has been working with two other friends to develop the Child Monitor application, which addresses a list of 25 parental concerns that they identified through a parental survey. The application is meant to be used for the children between 3 to 14 years old.

“These days, it is common to see children having one or more smart devices, which means that they are open to all the contents that these devices show and offer. And as they are children, they could easily misuse these features, and get themselves in real trouble. To prevent such a trouble, we present our Smartphone Monitoring System, which provides the parent with the ability to track and control the child’s activities on the phone.,” said the developers. The system provides access to the child’s camera, microphone, and location, to give more control to the parent, their project report said.

“With the help of a mouse click parents can know the entire details about their children;s mobile phone usage.  The Child Monitoring App, will help monitor children without any extra devices. We did a survey among all the parents in the campus about the mobile phone features that their children are often using,  We found that the parents wanted to know about the time their children spend on mobile, the use of applications and monitoring and blocking undesirable applications and downloads. Even the mobile phone camera can be disabled with the help of this Child Monitoring App,” he said.

When the mobile is switched off or any accidents, parents will get. Top websites that they visit and the time they spend with friends.

“We came to know about a problem of children using smart phones and they are not focusing on their studies. We did a survey among the parents and we got 40 features that the parents wanted and we have developed the most 25  features in  this application. Major functions is locations, the timing of using social networking sites like watsapp during examination times, parents can block these websites.  The screen time spend on the timing of use –restricting use. “It is submitted to the M Government of Dubai.”

Professor Dr Thomer Shnableh, Computer Science and Engineering Department, came out with the idea and we three friends have implemented the salient control features that can be accessed through a phone. “Our team took almost two semesters to complete the project and for research testing and implement. Its costs of around Dh 5000 was covered by a grant from the University. It is submitted to the M-Government of Dubai Government and we are waiting for the approval.”

“We aim to create an android application that allows the parent to control and monitor the child’s activity on his/her phone. The application allows the parent to track the child’s current location, the recent places he visited, as well as the top places he visited during the month. Also, it provides the parent with the ability to take real time pictures using the front or rear camera of the child’s phone, as well as to access the microphone and record anything for a short period of time. Not only that, it also lets the parent to view the call history, SMS messages, and web browsing history, in addition to the top callers, SMS senders, and the most visited websites during the month.

Earlier, the Ministry of Interior’s Child Protection Center launched the “Hemayati” Mobile Application to improve the safety and protection services available for children. “Our application is different from this application, which will be mainly monitoring the location of children.

In addition, the app provides the parent with the option of specifying a period of time where the child should not use the phone (i.e. from midnight to the morning). And if the child does, the parent would be notified, with the exact time and the duration of his usage.  “The parent gets an up-to-date list of the apps on the child’s phone, with the ability to block any of them, so the child wouldn’t be able to use them. And if the parent doesn’t want the child to enter certain websites, he/she could block them on the child’s phone,” Nihal said. .”The application could detect if the child tries to use a VPN client to hide his activities, and notifies the parent about it. Not only that, the parent can see the status of the child’s phone, including the battery, GPS, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and mobile data. And if the child disables the internet connection, the app could be configured to enable it again. And if the child turns off his phone for more than 10 minutes, the parent would be notified as well,” he added.

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