Worried about your kids spending too much time on social media platforms with no parental control ? A Delhi-based couple might have a solution. Shveta Uppal & Rahul Gandhi launched Birds n Bats, an AI-powered social media app exclusively for kids.
Birds n Bats was launched in July 2019 and can be accessed by kids between the ages of 7 and 17.
How does it work?
It has seven tabs that will promote entertainment and learning together. The kids can add upto 77 friends. Using the app, users can chat with a single person or a group. The user can also share their art, craft, and text with their friend list. Along with this, the users can take up daily educational challenges, read articles, enhance their vocabulary, learn manners, solve riddles amongst other things.
According to Gandhi, the app’s idea came from an incident that took place three years ago. “One day, I got a friend request on Facebook from a family friend’s 12-year-old daughter. That made me raise a question, why am I supposed to expose my data as an adult to a child at that age? That’s when I realized that kids needed their own space as well.”
His wife Shveta too was often concerned with their 13-year-old daughter using WhatsApp to speak with her friends. “Parents are in constant fear that their child will get exposed to unwanted content at that naive age. That’s when we realized that kids needed their own social circle, their own space with their peers,” Shveta said.
The app will have two login IDs; for parents and for the kids. For the first time, the children need to be logged in by the parents. The rationale behind the two separate logins is to comply with the legalities and maintain security.
“The parent also needs to be gratified by another existing parent user. In case the parent does not have peers on the app, they can directly write an email to our team,” Gandhi explained.
Interestingly, Birds n Bats is AI-powered which prohibits unwanted content like pornography to be uploaded on the app.
However, this does not mean that the parent gets access to the child’s profile. A parent’s visibility is only till the admin page. “Parents cannot see the chats, friends, photos at all,” said Uppal. The only thing parents can monitor is the duration their child can be on the app, which is between 35 to 140 minutes.
Uppal explained that similar apps were launched in Singapore and the US, however, they failed because of too much information being accessed by the parents.
When asked if using Birds n Bats would eventually deter children from using existing social media apps, Gandhi explained: “No, it wouldn’t and that’s not the plan either. We want children to get used to better content. Of course, it does not stop them but if the technology is here to stay, and they are going to use it, they might as well use it for the better.”
Gandhi who has worked with companies like Airtel and Snapdeal in the customer relations departments now works as with an IT-based company. Uppal who has worked in the banking sector is now a housewife.
Since neither of them were from the tech background, the three-year-long journey for the duo has been a learning curve. “We had to learn everything from scratch,” said Uppal. The couple has spent Rs 15 lakh in setting up this app. “Since we are on a bootstrap budget, we are always looking at ways to cut costs and do things ourselves or spend as little as we can,” she added.
Speaking about the way forward, Gandhi said that they plan to raise Rs 2 crore which will help them sustain at least for the next 18 months. They plan to use 40 per cent of that funding for tech-enhancement and 25 per cent on marketing. They aim to have at least 500 to 1000 users for Birds n Bats in the next one year.
Access and usage to the app is free. For a revenue model, in the next phase, they plan to introduce e-gifting along with tying up with online market places.