ASU professors develop dictionary to help parents translate texts

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) – Arkansas State University professors have developed an app to help parents monitor sexting and drug use texting among teenagers.

Ruby Translator translates texting terms using in-app dictionaries developed by counselors that contain more than 8,500 phrases associated with drug use and sexual texting.

Arkansas State University computer information and technology professors, Drs. Ralph and Paula Ruby developed the app to help parents decipher texts that could lead to trouble. "My wife and I have written 50 books, we've written manuals and accounting practice sets, and now the latest learning tool is the app."

The idea for the app came from their own experience with a family member who was a resident at rehabilitation facility John 3:16 Ministries. The Rubys worked with the drug counselors to create a drug use dictionary. "I don't know if there's anything worse than seeing a son, a daughter, a nephew, a cousin, be addicted, and not knowing if that loved one is ever going to come home that night," said Dr. Ralph Ruby

The translator defines sexual and drug related texts such as Looney Tunes, Lucy, and Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, phases to describe the hallucinogen LSD. "We found terms that we didn't know existed," said Dr. Ralph Ruby. We learned some things through all of the research that we did."

Apple approved Ruby Translator for purchase August 23, 2011. Dr. Ralph Ruby said he and his wife were worried Apple might reject the app because of the information it contained. "People told us that they didn't think the app would get accepted because of the drug terms and the sexting terms."

"The only way we could do it was to put it through the iTunes store, and then use the rating system that Apple has," Dr. Ruby said. "So we put a 17+ on it and that means that no one below the age of 17 should be able to buy that app."

Twenty-five year old Bret Holder said he would consider using a tool like Ruby Translator when he has a family. "I think it's a good app. I think parents need to know what their kids are talking about and getting into with all the dangers out there right now."

"Knowing me growing up, I'm going to know I need to monitor my kids.

The texting communication application is available to purchase for $1.99 in Apple's iTunes store.

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