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

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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

Technology for Wellbeing

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Wenqian Xu
System Administrator of Cybersmarties Ltd.

The definition of wellbeing seems very simple. According to Wikipedia, wellbeing is defined as “The state of being comfortable, healthy, or happy”. But wellbeing in reality is very difficult to define. On the other hand, approaches to achieving wellbeing are various; there are millions of ways to achieve wellbeing. In this blog, I would like to talk about the impact of technology to wellbeing and efforts Cybersmarties have made so far.

I always believe that technology itself makes no sense unless it is combined with real life. Actually, technology originally comes from real life and therefore should mirror real life. Personally, I’m a fan of Apple. Of course, I was a fan of former Apple CEO – Steve Jobs. I read his biography, watched his public speaking etc. I strongly agreed with one of his views on Apple where he said Apple was – “Standing in the intersection of technology and the humanities”. I watched almost every product announcement event from Apple and liked to watch related evaluation videos of every generation of Apple products. To be honest, I don’t understand why people always complain that Apple is losing its creativity. In my opinion, they’re doing better and better to make their products “stand better at the intersection of technology and the humanities.” I suppose no matter how high the technology is, eventually it should benefit the most of society. Otherwise, such technology is still at the theory level and needs to be improved.

It’s very similar with Cybersmarties. Cybersmarties is the first educational social network specifically for primary school kids. As Manager of the Technical Team, I’m pretty proud that we’re creating something unique which benefits primary school kids to not only deal with cyberbullying, but also teaches kids how to change their behaviour online in a positive way making social media a better place in the future and advancing humankind. We call it – Behavioural Technology. In our unique Behavioural Technology, except for the SMART Content Filter System, Flag Report System and Reward System which I introduced in my previous blogs before, we also designed and created a new system called the Wellbeing System during the summer.

There are lots of courses on the Internet to teach people how to achieve wellbeing. However, there are also millions of self-paced online educational systems which allow people to self-study and track their learning progress at any time. Cybersmarties combined these two types together and released our self-paced learning system – Wellbeing System on the 9thSept 2016. Considering different scenarios for teachers and students, we designed separate sections for both of them. For teachers, they can use our “Wellbeing for Teachers” section to watch our wellbeing courses at any time and show the courses in the classroom to their students. For our students, they can use our “Wellbeing Courses” whenever they want to by using the self-paced learning system. Students only need their Cybersmarties username and password to log in, after that, our system will track their learning progress automatically and they can continue their progress at any time because we believe the learning process should be continuous.

At the moment there are only a few courses on our system. However, in the future more and more courses designed specifically for primary school kids will be uploaded. What we are doing with technology and how we are adapting it to improve society as a whole by dealing with social issues is beginning to gain traction. We believe in what we like to call “Wholesome Education” which means that a child has substance; coping skills to deal with life’s problems, confident enough to dream big and see things through, kindness towards others and empathy. Recently Cybersmarties has been featured in numerous newspapers, radio interviews and most recently Irish TV. More and more people realize the importance of what we do. However we know at the moment our job is only to improve wellbeing and we’re open and very glad to invite all people with a similar vision to create something unique for our primary school kids. Along with courses we have on meditation, we’re glad that in the next couple of weeks, a Nutritionist from Australia will design a series of nutritional courses for primary school kids which can also improve their wellbeing by taking a holistic approach. So, people who are currently reading my blog (I appreciate your patience to still be reading it!!), if you are a specialist in a certain field and want to use your knowledge to improve childrens wellbeing, we’d like to have a talk to you and please contact us via our email address – info@cybersmarties or comment directly below. Thanks a million for your interest and endeavour.

This Wednesday, our Cybersmarties Team went to Dublin to attend an International Conference called Technology for Wellbeing hosted by ReachOut Ireland. We were honoured to be the first speaker at the plenary session. The CEO of Cybersmarties – Diarmuid Hudner did a fantastic and successful presentation about our efforts to combine technology and wellbeing. Followed by, Trend Micro, UCC (University College Cork) and ReachOut Australia. Google and Twitter also introduced their own approaches to wellbeing and the fantastic advances which are being made. The conference had fantastic speakers and we had some great discussions and exchanged our ideas about technology for wellbeing for the future. Although we’re a small company which launched in January of this year, we would like to try our best to help the wellbeing of children through our technology.

Finally, Cybersmarties is always upgrading and adding new features to help kids and teachers. Thanks for taking time to read my blog. See you next time.

Technology for Wellbeing was originally published on Cybersmarties Blog