Ms. Noopur Raghunath, Founder, Certus Technologies shares her views with technuter.com on child monitoring app eKAVACH:
Suppose your child is downloading an application which is not suitable for his age group. As parents, you actually have the authority to allow or disallow the application from downloading on the child’s device. If the child is searching for a black-listed website then the parent will get a notification from the ekavach application and the parent can walk straight to the child and ask why she/he was using the site and discuss the implications etc. If you wanted to do this earlier, you would turn off the wifi, take the tablet or the device from the child because he’s continuously addicted to the internet. You were taking actions physically. Now, even if you’re not physically present near the child’s device you can actually monitor the activity. You can tell the child that this is the time for you to access the internet and in this period of time you cannot do it. In case he wants to really access a site during a period not allotted to the internet, parents always have the flexibility to say ok for one hour I’m permitting you this.
What is the USP of ‘ eKAVACH ‘ in contrast of others?
Yes, if you say what is unique, we have developed both a child application and a parent application. The parent can remotely access the child’s device sitting anywhere if he has downloaded the application on the child’s device. Now, the second thing is that it is very simple to use. You can download it from the apple store and the android store and you can start using it. It has got an analytic part which is the dashboard of the application which gives you insights into weekly reports. It gives you details depending upon what you have registered for. It gives you reports for Facebook… when your child had last accessed a website other than an educational website, how much more time he spent on an entertainment website rather than something he should be doing at his age. Third thing is the time alert. Maybe, you know, you’re not there and the child needs the internet access and you have blocked it and you cannot come instantly and fix it. You have switched off the wifi or taken off the cable or whatever you want to do, you have done that. But remotely from your office or wherever you are, you can say, ok, I am giving you permission for that. We are coordinating a parent’s and a child’s chat app where the child can say, “I need that” or “Mom, I need internet time to be increased” or “I need this application to be downloaded” or “I need this website to be visited for my assignments”. So you can do it remotely from wherever you are without being physically present with your child.
What is ‘ eKAVACH ‘ doing differently to increase its market share in India?
See, marketing is one part of the whole thing. The second part is how we create awareness about digital parenting in this market. You know, in India, parents are still not ready… I will not say ‘not ready’ but parents really don’t know what the kids are doing online. So we want to create awareness amongst parents that there may be certain things their children are doing online which are harmful or aren’t good for the kids. We just don’t want to market the product or promote it. We want to create awareness. So we have been running a lot of social campaigns and ad schemes. On 5th of July the app came on the android app store and a week later it came on iWeb. For that we have been running a lot of social campaigns to let people know that we have actually really launched it. We organised a workshop by one of our experts on digital parenting… Not on ekavach specifically but just to let parents understand what digital parenting is.
Can you go further on the topic in which you were saying that you have organized a digital parenting some kind of seminar?
Yes, see we have a lot of experts from psychology on board. We have a professor from Amity University amongst other seasoned veterans in the field who periodically keep viewing our application. So what we want to do is, we want to go into marketing where we tell the parents that you don’t have to listen about our product but you can at least get an idea about the online activities of kids.
Similarly, the social media, so many parents just don’t have a social media account while their kids are so active on it. We just want to tell parents that such and such things are happening in the virtual world and some of them may not be good for your kids. So, you know the parents have an insight into the child’s life. Everybody today, all the kids from age 5 onwards spend time online. You know you cannot separate the kids from the online world today. We just want to tell parents that, you know, see your kids are there and you need to figure out ways to help and guide them. Parents constantly help their children with their studies maybe, guide them to what friends are good, what friends are not good, where to go, where not to go. Similarly, we want to tell parents that they need to show direction to their children in the online world also with tips on where to go, where not to go, how to interact with certain people, how to stay safe on the internet etc.
Suppose your kid is putting your credit card number to use, you would get an instant alert for the same. You could ask the child there and then, why he/she has used the number. Maybe initially he had taken the credit card number and noted it down for some reason that you had permitted. But, now he’s using it for some other reason…maybe he is going to pay online for an app that he likes. With the alert you can take up the matter with the child. You can tell him, “I’ve got an alert from ekavach that you have been using the credit card so why are you using it, you didn’t take my permission”. We just want to engage parents into kids’ online activities. It has nothing to do with you know…….not giving them internet access, it’s not about that… this whole initiative is about how we interact with our kids and how we engage and how we help them grow into responsible adults.
Could you tell us about your product?
You know, with ekavach, we wanted to go into the Indian market so we have taken this word ‘Kavach’ which means shield….meaning carefree parents being carefree for the kids.
Our second release is the windows app which we wanted to launch for the windows phones. Subsequently, we want to launch social media, facebook, twitter and the fourth one is a youth centric app.
Would you please reflect upon your R&D work?
Yes, you know we want our own clients and we don’t want to be a company which is just doing digital parenting. We are planning to engage ourselves into a lot of apps which have diverse portfolios that basically solve societal issues. Then we want to get into education. Energy conservation is one of our very big areas of focus that we want to target. I’ve been thinking about it… we have some plans but at the moment nothing is ready. I should not be commenting on that. But we would surely be doing things on education and energy conservation.
How can you make an app on energy conservation?
At the moment, it’s in a very initial phase. I can’t comment on it yet. All I can say is that after digital parenting, we will focus on education and then energy conservation.
What is your market strategy for the Indian market?
We are basically focussing on institutions by which I mean education providers like big schools who have a lot of branches all around the state or all over India. Then we want to get into corporate partnerships where we want to target corporate employees. Both working mothers and fathers will be targeted so that it would be helpful for parents to understand their child’s virtual behaviour. We may foray into employee welfare, children development and maybe provide them with parenting workshops and demonstrations of our product and such things. We are developing marketing strategies with different-different sectors in mind. So, basically we are targeting institutions where a bulk of children from different age groups is present. From 5 years onwards to the age of 17.
Have you targeted any institution or corporate company for your promotions?
No. Not at the moment but we are in talks with certain institutions and 2-3 corporates. We are negotiating on the terms and conditions, how we could engage with them and how we can get engaged into their line of work. So, we would be coming out soon with that.
Your message to parents for monitor their young kids during Web browsing…
We actually want parents to be very aware of what the children are doing online. What they can do is they can install home devices which a lot of people are using. The child is confined in his own room, so it’s better to have a desktop, keep it in a central place where people are going in and out. It must not be kept in his room and should be in a place where you can keep an eye. You don’t actually need to spy on your children but you do need to be vigilant. It’s up to your children what kind of friends they have, what kind of associations they have but it is your job to guide them. Make them friendly with you rather than telling them to do this or not to do that. It is very difficult. Kids are very smart these days. They just don’t want to hear that someone is monitoring them. So you need to say, “No, I’m not monitoring you. I’m just safeguarding you from the world”.
Maybe talk to your children about how you can make a Facebook account. Say, “Can you help me do this, I need to browse this”. Maybe you know already know what to do but as a friend ask them, how to do this, how not to do this. That gives you a better relationship with them and then you musn’t say “Don’t do this, I don’t want you to go there, I don’t want you to go with this friend, this is bad, that is bad”. Say things like “Now come let’s sit together, let’s play this game together, if you have downloaded some game can you teach me how to play this game, can you tell me how to search for this content which I’m searching for”.
Information is flowing from both the sides. The child is also giving you information and you are also giving information. When you are actually interacting with the child you will feel ok and the child will also feel “ok my mother or my father is my friend, I can share anything, I can tell them anything or maybe I got this comment or a message how to respond to this”.
As a parent you know it is good to interact with your kids. Ask them the meaning of things like ‘LOL’, slangs and abbreviations which they are more likely to know of than you. It is very necessary to communicate with the kids. If you don’t communicate, you go nowhere. As a parent, I am a mother myself, I’ve experienced this continuously so I cannot be very rude to my child. I have to be very assertive but in a very friendly manner.