A QUARTET of Hunter teenage girls have been honoured for developing an app that aims to make the Internet a safer place for their peers.
Tech Girls Movement has named St Joseph's College Lochinvar year eight students Layne Wilks, 14, Emily Pockett, 14, and twins Isabel and Violet O'Brien, 13, winners of its Search for the Next Tech Girl Superhero competition regional NSW secondary school category.
"We were so proud of ourselves for making such a good app," Emily said.
"We did so much work and put in so much effort that at the end of the day it actually didn't matter that we won - we were just so happy with the final product."
Violet said they were so focused on completing the app they forgot it was for a competition, so the win was "surreal".
"We just want to make the online world safer," Layne said.
Tech Girls Movement staff visited the school to explain the 12 week program, which requires students to identify a problem in their community, research and document a solution in a business plan, build a working app prototype and pitch it in a public video.
The girls said they thought of the Momo Challenge hoax, which was a nonexistent social media challenge that reportedly involved user Momo enticing children to perform dangerous tasks.
"There are other challenges out there and we knew how damaging they could be to mental health and wellbeing," Isabel said.
"We wanted to educate parents and children about the effects of what's out there."
They said while there was an abundance of resources on cyber bullying, their app, AVO - an acronym for Awesome Vibes Online - would target online challenges and other dangers, including grooming. It is proactive and seeks to stop threats.
It comprises a reporting function; a news page with updates on the latest dangers; an online discussion board; and tips for parents about how to talk to their children.
The girls were matched with San-Francisco based Salesforce global head of manager capability, Rachael Richards, who mentored them in fortnightly video calls and provided "real world insight and tips to develop a business plan".
This includes collecting revenue through click-through advertising and a monthly subscription fee.
The girls said they needed to make some improvements to be able to list the app for download and are considering entering the global Technovation Girls competition.
They said the experience not only provided them with new skills but made them more independent and confident.
"This gave us a way to build on our interest [in coding] and pick up new skills," Layne said. "We're all considering a career in coding."
Warners Bay High won the NSW secondary school category for its car-pooling app.