Child sexual exploitation is a growing problem. The ubiquity of camera phones and mobile messaging apps means that many children now have the ability to film anyone and anything. Pictures and video can be taken easily and uploaded to the Internet for the world to see – sometimes without the subject’s consent. At the same time, CSE is a difficult issue to spot. It can be difficult for professionals to spot and young people frequently do not recognise themselves as abused. Young people need education and support to help them use technology wisely and avoid exploitive situations.
Microsoft has always been a major supporter of keeping children safe online. That’s why Microsoft teamed up with Barnardo’s to develop the Wud U? app. The app isn’t a game or extension of a website. It’s an educational experience designed from the ground up to support children and help them to spot the warning signs of dangerous digital interactions and to take steps to keep themselves safe.
The app presents the user with nuanced stories of characters from diverse backgrounds and invites the user to explore the consequences of each characters’ actions. The result is an experience that aims to education without boring and engage without condescending. The app also gives the user access to tip sheets and contact information for support services from Barnardo’s. The aim is to provide children with the information they need and to make it easier for them to reach out if they need help.