VizuaMatix’s state-of-the-art digital well-being platform protects children from harmful content on the internet while empowering parents to help them develop healthy digital habits.
How safe are your children when they’re online? What are they watching? How much time do they spend online? These are a few of the major concerns parents have when it comes to their children being online. These concerns have only grown with the COVID-19 pandemic forcing schools to operate online. Unfortunately, the only option parents had for years was to use third-party parental control apps to keep children safe online. But research has shown controlling children’s devices intrusively with these apps can actually be counterproductive, as it can harm the trust between a parent and child. And these apps have many loopholes that children can use to bypass them.
Recognizing these concerns, VizuaMatix built their latest product, vxSafenet. It is an all-in-one parental control and digital wellbeing platform that allows telecom operators to provide households with child-friendly internet services with reliable parental controls. In other words, it works at the core network level of telecommunication providers to create a safe online ecosystem for children to learn and grow. vxSafenet is a patent-pending product accessible as a service partnered telecom operators offer their customers. The scale and complexity of vxSafenet showcase Sri Lanka’s skills in building innovative digital solutions for complex problems.
Reimagining how we improve the digital well-being of children
“For the first time in the world, we created a fully-fledged network-level parental control system. As a result, children can now be a part of a safe, secure, and child-friendly internet. On top of that, parents will have the ability to control and regulate their child’s internet use, all without installing any special applications on the child’s device. Thereby enabling a healthier conversation between parents and children about screen time while enabling telecom operators to build an online safe space for children,” explains the Chairman and CEO of VizuaMatix, Theekshana Kumara, introducing vxSafenet. Parents can interact with these services through an app, a website, or even USSD and SMS, depending on each telecom operator’s preference.
A powerful high-tech approach to filtering harmful content
One aspect of vxSafenet is how harmful content is filtered and blocked so children can’t access them. To do this, vxSafenet uses revolutionary and advanced web filtering techniques that are used hand-in-hand to identify and block harmful content. Deep packet inspection (DPI) is one such technology used by vxSafenet to ensure that harmful content is blocked from children.
Further, vxSafenet uses an award-winning database of over 109 million categorized URLs to block unwanted and harmful sites. This database is updated daily and fully complies with the standards of almost all child protection agencies in the world, among them the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) in the UK, the Federal Department for media harmful to young persons (BPjM) in Germany, and the Canadian Centre for Child Protection. But blocking URLs on their own isn’t enough. “We’re also building an AI model to monitor and detect if a child is bypassing the controls set by the system,” says Deputy CEO of VizuaMatix, Tharindu Abeydeera.
An innovative product empowering parents to guide their children as they learn, play, and explore online
vxSafenet is so much more than just a content filtering system. VizuaMatix clearly understands the dilemma faced by a parent when giving internet access to a child. Through vxSafenet, telecom operators can now offer services that give parents the ability to control what data is used for, when it’s used and even how long. Parents can also set a daily data limit for a specific app or website and even at specific times of the day. “For example, children often play games or watch videos while the teacher tries to teach in online classes. We enable parents to add restrictions so that other websites and applications are blocked during this specific time slot” adds Theekshana.
One of the most unique attributes of the vxSafenet, compared to third-party parental control software, is its quota management function. With this feature parents can ration data for different apps and services their child uses, and ensure that the child spends more time on productive applications rather than just wasting data and time on the internet, at the same time keeping their data limit and budget in check.
When children access the internet, they can easily end up receiving unintended search results due to typing errors. At the same time, teenagers can always be in search of inappropriate content due to sheer curiosity. Most search engines have a “SafeSearch” feature designed to keep children away from such accidental exposure to harmful content. “However, when SafeSearch is enabled from the web browser, it can easily be bypassed by the child. But with vxSafenet, SafeSearch will be enforced for every child connection at the network level, which cannot be bypassed by the child,” adds CTO of VizuaMatix Manoj Mallawaarachchie.
The platform gathers user data about each child’s time spent online and provides parents with a detailed analysis. However, scrolling through a long list of details and understanding your child’s safety can be tough and time-consuming. This is why parents are provided with an online risk rating for their children. One look and parents can know if they need to dive into the more detailed list to know what their child is accessing.
Building a non-intrusive and safer internet for children
According to Theekshana, vxSafenet is an appealing option to telecom providers. It allows them to enter a market dominated by third-party parental control apps. It allows telecom operators to offer their customers all the features provided by those apps and then some. All while costing customers only a fraction of what the third-party parental control apps cost. Further, vxSafenet is a 3GPP-compliant telco-grade platform that is highly scalable. It is built for easy integration into the existing infrastructure of any telecommunications service provider.
The journey to creating such a product was not easy by any means. While the concept may look simple, finding a way to put it into action while still allowing millions of transactions to happen simultaneously included countless days of research and ups and downs. “These sophisticated technologies are generally built by larger corporations from countries with more capital. vxSafenet is an example of how we can do the same if we have the right mindset and set our sights on the correct goal. We want to encourage the IT sector of Sri Lanka to provide world-class solutions for global problems,” shared the CTO of VizuaMatix, Manoj Mallawaarachchie.
In overcoming these challenges, VizuaMatix has built an innovative patent-pending product. Of course, keeping children safe on the internet is an evolving and continuous task. For the company, vxSafenet is the first step of an ongoing journey. VizuaMatix has plans to offer more applications and other features that telecom operators can use in Sri Lanka. They are also setting their sights on expanding into the Maldivian, African, and East Asian markets. In closing, Theekshana reiterates that keeping children safe online is a global concern that can be realized through innovation with products like vxSafenet enabling safe, trusted digital spaces for kids.