Prior Child Exposure to Social Networks likely to Misbehave Online

Diarmuid Hudner
CEO of Cybersmarties Ltd.

Research carried out by a social network for primary school kids in Ireland has revealed that 86% of children who have had previous access to adult social networks by the age of 12 are far more likely to misbehave online than kids who have not been allowed by their parents.

The research carried out on 50,000 of its users by Cybersmarties.com – a safe educational social network for primary school kids, reveals that children who have had access to social networks without being educated on social networks are more likely to misbehave than those who have had no experience of social networks.

Diarmuid Hudner, CEO of Cybersmarties, said that “the root issue here is not just education but effective hands-on education of social networks which children can relate to in their world. There is nothing wrong in essence with social networks, it is just we have never been trained how to use them. Therefore when children at a young age, who have not acquired the cognitive maturity needed to assimilate what is permissible online behaviour, get access to what is essentially adult social networks, then it is a case of monkey see monkey do. Children learn from adults and unfortunately for the most part on social media, they are learning all the wrong things”.

Hudner continued “Cybersmarties is a locked down, fully monitored social network just for kids so we can immediately see through the messaging function, the children who have used social networks before. They are more aggressive and opinionated than children who are experiencing social media for the first time. They have been educated in all the wrong behavioural patterns. We have only positive content on Cybersmarties with behavioural technology built in to educate children if they start to behave inappropriately, therefore children only behave positively. Humans are social interactive creatures, who react to their surroundings in order to feel included. If everything on a social network is positive then the users will behave in a positive way. Someone acting inappropriately becomes an abnormal behaviour which needs to change quickly if they want to be accepted by the rest of the group. The average is 3 days using behavioural technology where children who had previously misbehaved, begin to start respecting themselves and others online. The great thing is seeing how positive they become towards others after such a short period. I always believe there is no badness in children, they just haven’t been educated properly and all the research we are carrying out verifies this. If we want social media to be used in a kinder, friendlier, more proactive and positive way in the future, then we must be educate children now in a way that they understand.”

Prior Child Exposure to Social Networks likely to Misbehave Online was originally published on Cybersmarties Blog

Uprise Festival and CyberSmarties

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Wenqian Xu
System Administrator of Cybersmarties Ltd.

Last Thursday, CyberSmarties team took the early train from Limerick to Dublin to attend the Uprise Festival event because we were one of the Team Ireland Pitch Battle Finalists. During the event, huge numbers of people came to our stand and showed great interest. As a technical guy, I’m the man who usually stands behind the team and is less talkative. However, that day, I was affected by the enthusiasm of all the people because I see more and more people realizing the importance of online safety for children and cyberbullying is becoming a serious issue in social media, especially for the young kids.

It’s interesting that when I briefly described CyberSmarties by saying – “CyberSmarties is the first safe educational social network for primary school kids to deal with cyberbullying”, the first reaction of people is always like “Oh, it’s great to have a social network solution to deal with cyberbullying”, then here question comes – “How can you keep children safe online?”

Most existing solutions is to create a filter to scan and block bad content on Facebook, Twitter etc. Our solution is to create a separate locked-down platform only for kids. Two reasons of not creating a standard filter are:
1) There is no 100% guarantee of any content filters to ensure they can block all bad content. If any bad images, messages, videos bypass the filter, even only one case, it still harasses and harms children and make them feel upset;
2) Social media is not only on the desktop browser, like Instagram and Snapchat, they are purely mobile apps. It is very hard for existing filters to extend their protection across multiple platforms.

So, why not create a locked-down platform just for kids and have a SMART content filter which not just picks up bad words but teaches the child why that word shouldn’t be used? This is positive education and teaches positive behaviour. Simply blocking bad words does not change behaviour. Here comes CyberSmarties. Firstly, in our current platform, only two user roles are allowed in our platform – Teachers and Student. Secondly, we authenticate each Student account as a real kid. CyberSmarties is the first social network to authenticate each child as a real child. Before our technology, there were no platforms or companies who could claim that every account is a real person on their system and more importantly that that adult is not posing as a child. Lastly, we hold the zero-tolerance policy in our platform which means when any cyberbullying cases occur, the person who did cyberbullying will be knocked off the system immediately.

As Diarmuid Hudner, CEO of CyberSmarties said, “There is nothing wrong with social media, kids just haven’t been shown how to use it properly.” So, we created Behavioural Technology including SMART Content Filter Module, Emotional Flag Report Module, Reward Module, I’m Feeling Sad Module etc. to teach positive behaviour to kids. We also have a Guidebook which is integrated with the SPHE curriculum for teachers to help them educate their students. We noticed that currently, the common way of schools to teacher cyber safety is to have someone come to the school and give a talk for one day on Cyber Safety. However, not only is this a one-off talk, does not use technology though the kids are using technology, but it is similar to the difference between the driving theory test and the practical test. You can’t drive well with only knowing the theory of how to drive. You need to practice on the road, make mistakes, learn from them and improve. It’s the same with learning cyber safety. Kids will very easily forget what they learnt from a talk, they need practice and regular practice. So, here comes CyberSmarites. Kids can learn how to protect themselves online in our safe locked-down controlled system. Our research with Cybersmarties found that students in 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th class in primary schools will form good behavioural habits and abandon bad behaviour. Cybersmarties works, positive behavioural habits are instilled very quickly and because everything on the site is positive then instances of negative behaviour are negligible. Only in this way will the future generation of users on social media use it differently than how it is used today and begin to shift positivity into the mainstream.

Last but not least, recently if you noticed our loading page, you will find that our link has changed from http://cybersmarties.com to https://cybersmarties.com which is the same prefix as many bank websites etc. because we implement HTTPS to our services. HTTPS is a protocol for secure communication over the internet. However, you can still visit us via the previous link because it will direct to our new link automatically. Above all, CyberSmarties team always keeps updating and adds more features to protect our kids and eliminate cyberbullying.

Thanks a million for your time of reading my blog. Hope to see you next time.

Uprise Festival and CyberSmarties was originally published on Cybersmarties Blog

A future day with Cybersmarties

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Wenqian Xu
System Administrator of Cybersmarties Ltd.

As a technical guy, I always believe that it’s better to do more rather than talk more. Personally, I seldom promise things unless I have 80% or 90% chance of getting something done. However, what I want to do in this blog is to free my imagination and share something in my mind about what Cybersmarties is working towards. By the way, some good ideas are not from me, they are from members of the Team here at Cybersmarties.

As you know, Cybersmarties is a safe educational social network specifically for primary school kids. The age of our users is between 6 and 12. Students at such an age are naturally curious about everything. They love to experiment whether things are good or bad. As I mentioned in my previous blog – “Educate rather than Punish”, young kids are naturally kind or as in my home country of China, we refer to it as of “pure white” paper. No matter what you draw, your feelings will reveal themselves in the corresponding colors and pictures eventually. So, we need only to provide a completely safe environment for them to grow up, not only in reality, but also on the Internet. The best way to do that is to create a locked-down environment. The first step is to restrict the network just to kids, who are authenticated through schools as being real kids. But in our view, in the future, there must be a way to identify each person. To prove kids are real kids, parents are real parents, teachers are real teachers, we probably need to use kinds of “cross-verified technology” with unique biological information like fingerprint, facial recognition etc.

Very soon, the Cybersmarties world will be formed into two parts – Cybersmarties School and Cybersmarties Home. Based on research, it’s not enough for kids to form good behavior only during school time. Actually, kids will spend almost half of their time at home. This is why we developed the Fully Monitored Version of Cybersmarties.

In Cybersmarties Home, kids receive every morning an inspired message, pictures, videos or to be even more interactive, like VR (virtual reality). Our System can automatically give some suggestions based on agenda, today’s temperature, festival events information etc. With certain wearable devices (smart watch etc.), it can also combine health data (heart rate, sleep data etc.) to send alerts to parents about their kids. At the same time, parents will also receive some useful tips about kids welfare. Topics will be picked up based on parents’ own browser history and corresponding keyword trends from search engines. Of course, all content will be finally checked by Cybersmarties Experts before delivering to both parents and kids in order to make sure they’re all suitable and appropriate.

In the Cybersmarties School version, Teachers and Kids will have two kinds of roles in the system. Cybersmarties School will be highly integrated with the school curriculum. Before every class begins, a reminder will be delivered with class information and notes from teachers to kids. So, kids can prepare in advance what is better and convenient for their learning. With an improved Reward system, teachers can reward kids if they have done something good or showed excellent behavior. And vice versa, kids will lose some points because of bad or inappropriate behavior. All these points decide whether kids can play more games in the Cybersmarties Game Playground. Also, some certifications will also be delivered based on each kids’ accounts. (Sounds like Hogwarts in Harry Potter, doesn’t it? This idea is originally from Brendan Woodage, Operation Manager of Cybersmarties.com). After each class, teachers can use Cybersmarties Homework system to leave homework for kids which is available from September. So, for kids, they don’t have to worry about losing their homework anymore because they can check their own homework at any time and any place if they use Cybersmarties (This idea is originally from Diarmuid Hudner, CEO of Cybersmarties.com). Furthermore, SMART content filter system will be much “smarter”. It will not simply pick up inappropriate words based on sentiment analysis engine, with each reminder, it also contains corresponding suggestions with appropriate words. In some typical scenarios, videos with results of kids using such positive words will be displayed. Or with the help of the VR device, a VR video will let kids see the result more interactively making it more real. All these methods will educate kids better, teach them how to use social networks properly and form better behavior and relationships online with their friends. We have also introduced a Coding System for schools (available from September) which teaches kids how to code using fun interactive games through our Coding Partner in the US.

In conclusion, some of assumptions above will become reality very soon or are already a reality, but some are not easy to implement. However, finding a way to deal with cyberbullying is still a long journey for all of us. But it’s necessary and worthwhile to investigate and try. The aim of the Cybersmarties Team is to be a global pioneer in anti-cyberbullying and always do our best to educate kids in making social media be an engaging, safe and enriching experience for the future. Thank you.

A future day with Cybersmarties was originally published on Cybersmarties Blog

Online Parks

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Brendan Woodage
Operations at CyberSmarties

CyberSmarties took a two week break from work recently. After our first eight months of tirelessly working towards our goal of creating a safe space for children online, we decided that it was time for some time off. My colleagues immediately used this time to both spend time with their kids, and visit their parents, while I spent my time off catching up on boxsets and taking trips to my local park.

Now I’m forever observing. I enjoy sitting back and watching. I enjoy learning my surroundings and analysing and understanding who and what is in my immediate vicinity. So although my holidays were spent relaxing, I still managed to learn a lesson or two.

I journeyed to the park five times over my time off. There was this particular spot under a large tree that I went to that was near the playing field in case I wanted to go for a run, but also gave me a good view of the rest of the park. Each day that I sat there with my headphones on, I’d see the same faces. There were the same boys out kicking a football around, the same people walking their dogs, and the same mothers or fathers out with their kids. It was this that got me thinking. As a child I lived in England and there was a park that I used to visit called Victoria Park, across the road from my house. My parents would bring my siblings and I to the park every opportunity they had and it was there that I learned to ride my first bike, where I first went to kick a ball with my dad, etc. I remember wanting to spend all of my time there, to explore the park by myself. But my mother told me that you couldn’t stay at the park forever and that I was not allowed to go to the park by myself until I was old enough. By the time I was old enough, we had moved to Ireland. The thing is that as I watched the people at the park in Limerick, I realised that the same thing was happening here. Kids were having their first experiences here. You could see their love for the park growing. They were building up memories with their parents, learning how to do new things, being social, and having fun. Even the teenagers who were playing ball were having a great time.

And so, this park; in my eyes, reminds me of the internet and social media. It’s a place where you can socialise, meet friends, have fun, and learn new things. But you wouldn’t let your kids go to the park by themselves if there weren’t old enough just like you shouldn’t let kids be on grown up social networks when they’re not old enough. Cybersmarties Fully Monitored System is the age appropriate safe stepping stone to teach kids how to behave, be safe and communicate online. It is the stabilisers of the bike. The kids are going to move on to other social networks as they grow older, and explore different parks. But making sure that they’ve learned the right skills to protect themselves before they venture out into the wider world is a must, and with CyberSmarties, not only do we have interactive games and coding lessons, jokes, competitions, and daily positive reinforcement, but we have behavioural technology to ensure that when the child moves to their next social network, that they’ll be safe, educated, and happy, free to enjoy an “online park” which is creative, nurturing, fun, educational and above all is safe.

Online Parks was originally published on Cybersmarties Blog