Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.
George Bernard Shaw
I heard the above quote when I attended the Social Entrepreneurs Ireland 2016 workshop yesterday where Cybersmarties are participating. Personally, I can’t find a better way to describe the way Cybersmarties thinks as a company. Coincidentally, in 1997, Apple Inc. announced a short, but very powerful advertising slogan – “Think different” which could also mean “Change” from my perspective. To deal with cyberbullying, which is now a serious issue around the world, we need “Change”, too. Not only in theory, but also in a practical way.
In my last article, I introduced one of the key features in Cybersmarties – The Content Filter System. In brief the Content Filter System can detect inappropriate words e.g. “fat or ugly” in the message which students want to send, then block this message and give students a kind, instant and empathetic message that their words could upset others. It’s all about changing behavior, bit by bit, until positive behavior becomes habit. The most important thing is that unless students remove these “bad” words, they cannot send this message. We believe that through this mechanism, students will think and learn more how to communicate responsibly by changing their behavior gradually. The list of negative words is limitless and so we are constantly updating it and interacting with each member school to counter the problem of local slang.
In this article I want to introduce another key feature of Cybersmarties, namely “Our Emotional based Reporting System”. The philosophy behind it is “Educate rather than Punish”. So let’s “hack in”!
We have to be constantly be aware of other ways in which a child may be cyberbullied and build systems to counteract and positively educate. For example, if a student successfully sends a message which contains words, or be of a tone which may not in themselves use bad words yet at the same time is meant to upset or cause harm to the other person, then this is where our reporting system kicks in. Students are encouraged to immediately report a message which upsets them for example “I don’t want to be your friend anymore or nobody likes you”. When this occurs the student is given a choice of reasons why this message upset them like “It was mean to me or it made me feel uncomfortable”. The person who sent this bad message is immediately shut down and locked out of the system and the content of that message is sent to their teacher who can take appropriate action to educate the child on why they cannot send a message like this. When the teacher is happy that the child has learnt why they cannot do this then the teacher can “reactivate” the child thus allowing them back on the system. This technology is very important from a behavioral aspect as it teaches two very important lessons. Firstly, there are repercussions to negative behavior and secondly from the victim’s perspective, there is an immediate response to safeguarding your personal online presence. There are other sub-systems within this technology which catch other areas of negative behavior and protect the identity of individuals but are too intricate to fully explain in writing and I don’t want you falling asleep on me!!
In my next article I am going to look at all the positive technology we have in Cybersmarties which promotes self-esteem and confidence as well as the fun aspects of the network to keep the kids engaged. I strongly believe Cybersmarties will become a giant in anti-cyberbullying technology and change the way in which future generations use social networks and behave online. Thanks for reading my blog and until next time, I hope you all have a great and safe Easter break!