When It Comes To Cyberbullying, Speed Is Key

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Cyber-bullying is affecting children up and down the country. It’s not just in secondary education, it starts at primary school level. And, it’s not just at home, with an average of 65% of children owning a smartphone (*Internetmatters.org), cyberbullying is happening right now in our classrooms.

Reacting at the speed of social

Whether it’s kittens, the newest meme or Beyonce’s latest outfit, news spreads fast on social media. Cyber-bullying works just the same way. Very quickly a negative image about child, a video or comment can be shared, liked and spread to hundreds of students. It is vital that anyone working with children reacts with that same speed following being alerted to an incident.

Parents need to be informed as they may not yet be aware, as well as having the culprits identified. Similarly to how you would deal with bullying offline, it is a very sensitive matter. It’s important that the child who is being bullied feels the support from teachers and understands that there is help.

It’s more than a like

It’s important to understand that something that may seem trivial to us, for example a “like” on a post, is more than just a like to many children. It’s the confirmation that someone else agrees with the bully. The child affected will place a lot more emphasis on these than we as adults would. Unfortunately, likes are gathered fast and without much thought on social media. Any engagement on a post ensures amplification through the extended network.

We know that kids sometimes don’t think through what it means to like, comment or share an opinion. It’s important for them to learn online etiquette and how to think before you click.

Prevention

As with most things, preventing the issue from occurring is the best mode of defence. We know social media is here to stay and how hard it is to enforce a no-phone ban. So when it comes to prevention we need to take it back into the real world.

Conversations about the etiquette of communicating online need to start in primary school classrooms. Just as children learn their please and thank you’s, they must understand how to act online. Both parents and teachers play a part in this. It is a new topic for most of us.

Role plays, open discussions and working in small groups to tackle the subject can help:

● Open up positive discussion about sensitive topics
● Promote self awareness and awareness of others
● Build self-esteem and confidence
● Teach the importance of self reflection as a means of accessing progress
● Address fears of students

Books alone on the other hand are unlikely to have a positive preventative effect. This is not where social media happens. Engagement and buy-in from students must be found on their platforms and in their language.

To ensure preventative actions take hold, schools must make cyber-bullying part of the ongoing conversation in classrooms. Integration in subjects such as Citizenship, ICT and PSHE are only a few examples of subjects that lend themselves to talking about cyber-bullying. A once-off presentation or external speaker is simply not going to be enough to tackle the speed at which cyber-bullying is taking hold.

About the author:

Diarmuid Hudner is author of several anti-bullying books and CEO of CyberSmarties.com.
CyberSmarties.com is a free social network for primary schools that allows kids to use social media in a controlled, locked down, supervised and safe environment without the fear of harassment or cyber-bullying and uses behavioural technology to instil positive online behavioural habits.

Follow CyberSmarties on:

Facebook Page: Cybersmarties Page
Twitter: Cybersmarties Twitter

When It Comes To Cyberbullying, Speed Is Key was originally published on Cybersmarties Blog

Safe Educational Social Network for Kids

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Wenqian Xu
System Administrator of Cybersmarties Ltd.

The last three weeks have been quite busy for me. I went to Dublin four times in three weeks. The first time was to attend the National Finalists interview for the THINKTECH Social Innovation Fund supported by Google.org. The second time was to attend the workshop where we met other 11 finalists, exchanged some experiences of our company’s growth, listened to several experienced speakers from Google, Atlantic Bridge etc. talk about different aspects of company culture, product design, development plans, standardized workflow etc. The third time was to attend the first ever WordCamp in Belfast. I listened to many high quality speakers on different areas of technology, such as DevOps, REST API, Content Marketing, SEO (Search Engine Optimization) etc. The last time was to go into the Google EU HQ in Dublin for a meeting. That’s quite a long journey in September, isn’t it?

However, what I want to talk about in this week’s blog is social structure or social network rules. Nowadays, when people talk about social networks, Facebook is the first name which comes to mind. Few people know that originally Facebook limited membership to Harvard students, later they expanded it to higher education institutions such as Ivy League schools, then gradually opened to the public. However, it seems like Facebook is also becoming the most dangerous place to visit online because there are lots of online trolling or bullying on it, especially for young kids. Although it has an age restriction for kids under 13 in Ireland, kids themselves can easily bypass this restriction and register successfully. In fact, more and more kids are still using Facebook. As we know young kids are curious about everything, especially if it is something their parents forbid them to do. Unfortunately, the more strict parents are, the more likely kids will have a try. That’s human nature and we can’t deny it easily.

So, what can we do about this situation?

Cybersmarties offers a solution: We created a locked-down system specifically designed for kids only. Every child is authenticated as a real child. There are no adult users or adult content on it. Kids can still find their friends based on the same interests or schools. There are no real photos, no real names. There is Behavioural Technology including SMART Content Filter System, Emotional Flag Report System, Reward System, I’m Feeling Sad Button, Fully-Monitored System to help teachers teach our kids how to use social media properly and positively. As Facebook migrated the entire social experience of society and put it online, Cybersmarties is trying to migrate the entire social experience of primary school kids online. On Cybersmarties, kids can learn coding, Wellbeing courses etc at any time. They can check their Homework calendars at any time. Cybersmarties School version is strictly integrated with the SPHE curriculum in Ireland. For schools, we offer different options. On one hand, if schools want to use Cybersmarties exclusively, they can choose our Hidden School option which means this school won’t see other schools on Cybersmarties. On the other hand, if schools want to use Cybersmarties more openly, they can choose our Public School option which means they will see and interact with other schools. But we guarantee that all users on our platform are real kids in the real world.

For a social network, I suppose social structure or social network rules are the most important beyond everything else. Users can accept or reject friendship requests under normal circumstances so we decided to create something new and exclusive. For example, as I mentioned in the last paragraph, schools can choose the Hidden School option. In this option, all students in their school can only add friends from their school. Furthermore, in our Emotional Flag Report System, if Student A flag Student B for certain inappropriate sentences in the private message, because we hold a zero tolerance policy, Student B will be suspended from our platform immediately. He can’t log in our platform until his teacher educates and when happy that he/she understands why their behaviour is wrong they can easily re-activate the user. Online behaviour like all behaviour must be taught and that is why we put such an emphasis on education.
There are lots of other features on our Cybersmarties platform. Some of them I already introduced in my previous blogs, some more will be released shortly. There is very exciting news coming but I will leave that to another time but by then you will probably have read it in the papers or seen it on the news. Above all, if you are a primary school principal, teacher or parent who has kids between 7 and 12 years old, please don’t hesitate to sign up your kids on our Cybersmarties platform via the following links. Currently, we provide a 30 day free trial for a limited time only.
Sign Up for 30 days free trial: Click here to sign up
Email: info@cybersmarties.com

Or you can support us in educating the next generation of online users and keeping them safe via liking our Facebook page, following our Twitter page and subscribing to our weekly blogs to get up-to-date information on topics such as cyber-bullying and online safety.

Cybersmarties Facebook Page: Cybersmarties Page
Twitter: Cybersmarties Twitter

Thanks for taking the time to read my blog and see you next time.

Safe Educational Social Network for Kids was originally published on Cybersmarties Blog

Under The Surface

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Brendan Woodage
Operations Manager at CyberSmarties

When a problem just goes away, what are the factors involved in its disappearance? How does a problem cease to exist? The more I think about this question, the more I realise that problems don’t just disappear when ignored; they expand and multiply. A problem can only ever disappear when action is taken towards solving it.

For example, yesterday I had a toothache. The reason I had a toothache was because I have a cavity in one of my molars which I’ve continuously ignored. I know the problem will only get worse as time goes on but I choose to ignore that fact that I need to get a filling. This ignorance of problems doesn’t end with just me. We as a society also look at problems in the same light. Homelessness, Cyber Bullying, and even Mental Health and Suicide. Problems that everyone knows exists, but turn a blind eye to, expecting that they will in some way or another fix themselves.

But the reality is that problems don’t just fix themselves. My tooth will never truly get better unless I ultimately take the right action. This is the case with every other problem that each of us face. So for problems which face society, it takes a collective effort which has the goal of solving a particular issue which ultimately results in that problem being fixed. For example, on weekends, after the excitement of a night out, the streets are littered with cans, bottles, fast food waste and worse yet people wake up in the morning to find the streets are cleaned, broken glass removed. It is as if the events of the previous night never even happened. And this gets overlooked as once upon a time, these streets would have remained in the state that they were the night before. But someone (possibly everyone) had had enough of this behaviour and decided to put action into place to tackle this problem. And now we have clean streets, with the public oblivious to the work that was put in to make it this way.

A lot of the time, the simplest of actions towards getting rid of a problem make a huge difference. And quite often those actions aren’t seen, or heard. These actions happen in the background and then one day society realises that the problem is no longer there. We know the true extent of this here at CyberSmarties. From the outside looking in, CyberSmarties is a social network for primary school kids. But we didn’t create CyberSmarties with the sole intention of creating a fun and age appropriate network for kids. We created CyberSmarties with the goal of eradicating cyber bullying, promoting positive online and offline behaviour, promoting self-esteem and empathy, and all within a locked down safe space. We chose to tackle this problem with our underlying behavioural technology, our constant positive reinforcement via our What Matters section, Sentiment Analysis, SMART filter systems and other key features that are continuously active beneath the surface of our site. Messages containing negative words are prevented from being sent, gold stars are rewarded for good behaviour, and noticeable change in the students online and offline behaviour are all evident when a child uses CyberSmarties.

We saw a problem, and we’re doing our part to make sure this problem becomes a thing of the past, and hopefully one day the internet will be a kinder, and safer place for people across the world.

Under The Surface was originally published on Cybersmarties Blog