Parental control app Lighthouse sees growth

Moloko Mathopo
By Moloko Mathopo, ITWeb intern
Johannesburg, 24 Aug 2022

Three months after its launch, locally-developed parental control app the Lighthouse has already attracted 700 active users.

This is according to Andrew Price, founder and CEO of Lighthouse, in an e-mail interview with ITWeb.

Officially launched in May, the Lighthouse App aims to empower parents by protecting children from adult content, specifically imagery and video, according to custom age limits set by parents or guardians.

While other parental control apps block only known websites, Lighthouse detects harmful visual content and blocks the content, even when coming from new or uncategorised sites, says a company statement.

The app works in the background of a child’s device while they surf the web, analysing and blocking any inappropriate content in real-time.

Price explains: “By directing all traffic heading to a child’s device through our child-safe VPN and trained machine learning engine, [the app] blocks out any imagery/video content that would be considered nudity or pornography, and letting through the rest.”

The Film and Publication Board today said it is concerned about the alarming levels of porn addiction among SA’s children, which is predominantly perpetuated by the increasing access to mobile and tablet devices.

A 2021 assessment report compiled by WeProtect Global Alliances shows children across the globe face a sustained threat of online sexual abuse, with evidence suggesting the scale of this abuse is increasing at an unprecedented rate.

In SA, stats show 20% of pornography viewers in SA are underage, with 20% of those viewers being under age eight.

Price states the app strives to be the final layer in protecting children from harmful online content.

“A grandfather came to us desperate to find alternative solutions to blocking porn for his grandkids. They had tried everything else, and still porn was finding its way through the protective mechanisms. We investigated and found that all current porn blocking solutions used the same approach, which simply wasn’t good enough.

“The world of porn and online predators are using more and more advanced technologies to expose everyone, including (or especially) children. It is our responsibility to apply our minds and finances to meet them with similar technological protection.”

Speaking to Cape Talk’s Breakfast with Refilwe Moloto, Christopher Wilton, partner at Lighthouse, indicated the online platform has a feature called “allow and deny”, which allows parents to receive notifications on which websites or online streaming platforms their children are trying to access.

“For example, if your child tries to access a streaming site that the app is not sure about regarding content, it automatically blocks the site, requesting permission from the parent(s) or guardian to allow or deny access.”

According to Price, the app is currently free to use, but the company will start charging for the service towards the end of this year.

The Lighthouse App is available from the Apple iStore and Google Play Store.