Online Regrets?

Brendan Woodage - CyberSmarties Administrator
Brendan Woodage

This week I would like to ask you a simple question. A question that no one ever really asks themselves, but a question I think must be asked every once in a while.

The Question is: If you were to look back on your Social Media Profiles in 10 years time, would you be happy with what you see.

I don’t mean your appearance, or whether you’re the most shared or retweeted person you know. I mean you as a person, and the persona that you portray.

The reason why I’m asking you is because, like everyone my age (22), I spend a lot of my time browsing on social media, endlessly flicking through my feed, and as often as I do, I see people I’d know, their opinions, content that they’ve shared or retweeted, and I find I keep asking myself the same question. Will they regret or be embarrassed by that in 10 years.

We all know the internet never forgets. Famous Celebrities like Tom Hardy and Taylor Swift have both fallen victim to their fans unearthing their old Myspace accounts. Accounts that they once held before they became household names. Accounts that reveal far more about their personalities, and opinions than you’d ever learn from an interview, and that they might be embarrassed about. And it’s not just celebrities who might look back and feel embarrassed. I grew up in the Bebo era, and I know that the way I spoke back then, would make me question my ability to speak English now. “I thought dat writin lyk dis ws so cool bck den tho”….

But the thing is, that was open social media. A social media that not only my age group and I were on, but a network that was open to any age group, and to anyone. And looking back, it saddens me that there wasn’t a social network that was for my age group, and ONLY for my age group. One that when you grow up, you’re profile is gone forever. One that taught and prepared me for the next network that I became a member of.

That is why I love CyberSmarties. We provide kids with a space that is not only safe and educational for them, but allows them to be kids, to explore, to learn and to only be surrounded by kids of their own age, and that when they grow up and move on to the next social media, they won’t have the fear of having friends, family or future employers discovering a profile from their youth that doesn’t reflect the person they’ve become.

Where knowledge ends, speculation begins

Diarmuid Hudner - Author and CEO of CyberSmarties
Diarmuid Hudner – Author and CEO of CyberSmarties

“Where knowledge ends, speculation begins”

Sherlock Holmes (Arthur Conan Doyle)

We live in a modern age. We like to think of ourselves as modern people: open-minded, objective, reasoned and embracing of new concepts and practices. This is how Irish people like to see themselves, it’s what we are told in the media, it’s what we like to believe. We thought also that during the Celtic Tiger, we were one of fastest developing economies on the planet, that we influenced the world economy, that we had an effect on world trade. We like to think we have a first class education system, health system, infrastructure, the IT hub of Europe. We like to think a lot of things, because it is easier and nicer to believe nice things and the harsh reality can be too hard to handle. However reality has a terrible habit of dispelling myths and the myths are quickly dissipating.

We are in truth a country with a 1st world mentality but with 3rd world standards. Our “Boom” was based on ill-founded speculation. At one point we were building more houses here in Ireland (population 4.5 million) than the UK (population 65 million). Logic had been diluted by fantasy. Our Health system is one of the worst in Europe. We are NOT the IT Hub of Europe despite the presence of Google, Facebook etc – this is a taxation issue. If we did not have the lowest Corporation Tax in Europe, they would be gone overnight and this could yet happen. I am not one of the four horsemen of the Apocalypse here but I believe that only when you look at things in the cold light of day, through clear glasses and not rose tinted ones, that one can begin to address problems head-on, deal with them and improve. And this brings me to Education.

Ireland has always prided itself on its education system. As a former emigrant who had to leave Ireland to find work, I was confident of one thing in a new country; I could hold my own with anyone on an academic level because I had been through the Irish Education system. Can we say the same now? Going on current statistics, emigration is only going one way….the tide is staying out. The likelihood is that your son or daughter will have to leave Ireland to find work, to make a life. This is just a horrible fact that we have to accept. If we have the same people in power, in the same positions, doing the same things, how do ever expect things to change. It is the definition of madness – doing the same things over and over and expecting a different result. Therefore, assuming nothing changes, wouldn’t you like your child to stand the best chance possible of succeeding when they arrive on foreign shores, nervous, alone and anxious.

We live in a digital age. Our children are digital children, they’ve grown up with technology so it is reasonable to believe that they are well equipped in this regard. The reality however is far from the truth. Your child may be able to negotiate Snapchat, Facebook and Instagram on three different devices whilst at the same time watching X Factor and eating pizza but this does not mean they are IT literate. This does not mean they are technologically aware with current practices. Ireland scores very low in the world in this regard. I’ll give you an example. We are visiting schools with Cybersmarties everyday in different parts of the country. Progressive schools who want to take our system on because it is proven to influence positive behavioural change in children but they don’t have broadband and they have only five or six computers for hundreds of children. This is 2016 not 1916. In my old secondary school we had three computers in 1992 – they now have eight, twenty four years later. Meanwhile in Holland where Cybersmarties has been invited to bring our system, every child in school has a computer. There is a reason why we are not leaders in Europe – we invest in all the wrong areas. Like in an private company, it’s future is dependent on how much you invest in the next new product. Ireland’s future is dependent on how much it invests in its children.

So what do we do about it? Do we moan? Do we write blogs like I am now or do we get busy. Change only occurs through action. Cybersmarties is now working with and seeking businesses who will help us equip our schools with modern computers and work with broadband companies to bring the Irish Education system up to date. We’re not waiting for the government (if we had one) to do it, we’re not waiting for the Dept of Education to do it. We’re doing it because otherwise it wont get done. Let’s give our kids a fighting chance. I, and I am sure you do too, want Irish children to not just compete at the highest level but to win at the highest level, not just be technologically aware but to be more technologically advanced than their counterparts. Irish people are some of the most creative, entrepreneurial people on the planet if only we get out of our own way and stop letting sub-standard acceptance of mediocrity not bring us down but keep us down.




How to make yourself Cool?

Written by Wenqian Xu Systems Administrator

“Cool” is a very interesting word. According to the definition in Wikipedia, the word “Cool” refers to an aesthetic attitude, behavior or style. In daily life, we love to talk to people who are cool, we love to work with people who are cool, we love to make friends with people who are cool. However, people usually judge someone’s character via their behaviour, rather than only listen to people’s own self-description. Therefore, it’s useless to only say “I’m cool” yourself. Nobody will believe you.

So, here is the question – How to make yourself really Cool? Our answer is to Change your behaviour.
But the question is how do you change your behaviour in a positive way?

In Cybersmarties, we have a section called – “What Matters”. In this section, not only students, but also teachers can receive inspirational messages every morning. The style of the messages are very versatile, including positive images, videos and articles which are all specifically selected by our educational experts. In order to make sure the contents are suitable for kids and teachers, we separate the section into two sub parts. One of them is What Matters for Students, the other one is What Matters for Teachers and are strictly separated and only visible by their own accounts. For instance, if you log in the Cybersmarties as a Student, you can only see the section of “What Matters for Students”, you will never see “What Matters for Teachers” because we believe kids and adults focus on different inspirational aspects.

For students, because they’re in the primary school from age 6 to 12, they are similar to a piece of pure paper. Whatever you draw, they will receive and become those colors. So, kids will receive messages like “Why fit in when you were born to stand out” (published at 7th.April.2016), “Fall down 7 times, Stand back up 8 times” (published at 5th.April.2016) etc. However, for teachers, they focus on teaching and educational aspects. They will receive messages like “Education is teaching our children to desire the right things – Plato” (published at 6th.April.2016) and “Education’s purpose is to replace an empty mind with an open one – Malcolm S. Forbes” (published at 4th.April.2016) etc.

We believe children only need to take a few moments every day to watch or view these positive messages, rather than reading a thick book about how to change their behaviour because most children will lose interest if it is a thick book. In CyberSmarties, you only need to follow the messages every morning (they are actually very easy to remember) and maybe they can positively affect and influence you, little by little, especially for primary school kids.

In CyberSmarties, we also have some other fun aspects outside of our Games Section (We have hundreds of Educational, Action and Music games to keep children engaged). For instance, we have a section called “Jokes” which provide typical and popular jokes to help students have fun and relax. If students have any new jokes they’d love to share, they can use the Joke Submit Form to send to us which we will monitor and if appropriate upload on our site.

We also have a “Competitions” section. This section is to organize popular competitions among all schools in the CyberSmarties family. Currently, the first competition we are holding is for the Best picture of Happiness. We will show the top five pictures here and students from across Ireland can vote on their favorite one. The winner will receive €100 for their school. Closing date for entry is April. 30th 2016. So, if your school has already taken the free trial with CyberSmarties or is currently using our system, don’t hesitate to use your imagination and draw a picture of what happiness means to you and ask your teacher to post it to our office!

However, if you are interested in our competition, but your school isn’t already on board, why not ask your teacher to sign up for one-month free trial? Here is the link below:

Sign Up for one-month Free Trial

Last but not least, everything should have balance. In my first article, I talked about our negative content filter system. So, in my next article, I’d like to tell something about our new feature – “Reward System” which rewards children for positive online behaviour. See you next time.



Technology – Taking Flight

On December 17th 1903, the Wright Brothers achieved what no man had ever achieved before; Flight.  With their fixed wing aircraft, the Wright Flyer, the Wright Brothers started a new way of thinking, one that pushed boundaries, one that believed in achieving more.

“If birds can glide for long periods of time, then… why can’t I?” – Orville Wright

Over the next 30 years, their vision, like the visions of many before them, expanded into something far greater than they could ever have imagined.

So let’s jump forward to the 12th of April 1961.

The day USSR Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, became the first person in human history to be sent into Space.

Model of the Vostok spacecraft that took Yuri Gagarin to space.

But in between this time, what began as someone’s dream to conquer the skies and allow people to explore and travel everywhere on the globe, the dark side of human behaviour stepped in. By 1914, planes were being used to bomb Paris. By 1945, planes dropped the first Atomic bomb on Japan. There was nothing wrong with the invention; it was man’s ability to turn something positive into something negative.

And yet we live in a world that’s still growing. Every day, revolutionary technology is moving us forward as a race in medicine, in transport, and in communication.

In communication alone, just look at how far we’ve come in the last 20 years. The introduction of the personal computer, the mobile phone and the internet has for the first time in human history, given us the ability to communicate with anybody in real time, anywhere in the world. And yet again there have been problems. Cyber-bullying is now a global issue.

Time and time again, we have to look at behaviour and educating positive behaviour. This is why Cybersmarties was invented: to instil positive behavioural habits in children so that they grow up to be responsible adults online and use social media as it should be used, to make friends and interact on a global stage.

We’re already looking towards the future, already in the mindset of what comes next. Mark Zuckerberg believes that the next stage of our social and communication experience will come through the medium of Virtual Reality, and I wholeheartedly agree.

So it’s NOW that we start preparing for this new world that’s on the horizon. It’s now that we put the right practices in place to prevent the problems that we currently face (cyber-bullying, trolling, impersonation). It is now that we instil ideas into the youth, and give them the environment to flourish now, and into the future.

We were lucky enough to grow up in an environment where there was always much encouragement to children to pursue intellectual interests; to investigate whatever aroused curiosity. – Orville Wright


Written by Brendan Woodage = CyberSmarties Administrator
Written by Brendan Woodage CyberSmarties Administrator

Dare to Dream

Diarmuid Hudner – CEO of CyberSmarties

A Child’s Chair

I decided to sit upon time on a child’s chair
To be sobered by rain and intoxicated by air
To inhale wonder and exhale thought
Of every logic and reason sought
To see no measure of a distance run
But boundless impish feckless fun
To hear no clock but to daydream light
And sleep away darkness on Queen’s and Knights
For are we not all but young children grown
Made cynical by a lifetime tapestry sewn
Taught to find answers of what cannot be learned
That happiness is in living and cannot be earned
So let yourself sail on a child’s swing
Scream out loud or dare to sing
Float for a while on an eternal chance
And remember your unabashed youthful dance

Diarmuid Hudner

I wrote the poem above because when you were a child, nothing was impossible. You dared to dream. There’s a lot to be learned from children and about how as a society we need to change the way we are doing things. We need to start living.

Oh God! To reach the point of death only to realise you have never lived

Henry David Thoreau

I came across this quote recently in an old National Geographic magazine in a doctor’s surgery. I thought that perhaps it wasn’t the best place for it to be left hanging around considering the state of health of everyone in the room, but it certainly served the purpose of concentrating the mind!!

It was strange that I came across it as I’ve been thinking around that topic the last few weeks. Where my office is in Limerick City, I have the advantage of being near a large Georgian window which overlooks The Crescent. Each day thousands of people must pass, young and old and I watch their faces. There is a weariness evident, a greyness, not just through the sheets of rain camouflaging the sun, but something else – people are stressed.

Work for most people has become more about existing than sustaining. We work to exist and ensure our families exist. Work has become less about sustaining your dreams. When I look at the people passing it seems to me like the energy has been sucked out of us and this simply isn’t how life should be.

The way we are living and working today needs to change. Working nine to five is a product of the Industrial Revolution. Prior to then people didn’t work like that, they worked according to the sunlight allowing them to work. I’m not saying we revert to that but I am saying that productive work and forced work have long since proven to be unhappy bedfellows. I have a simple philosophy here for everyone working at CyberSmarties and it goes like this “It’s not about the hours you put in, it’s about what you put into the hours”. When you are happy you’ve done enough then go home, go to the park, live your life. It’s about treating people like adults and I firmly believe a person with a happy life will be a happy employee.

Everyone here is encouraged to have vision, to create, to get excited. Before we are fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, accountants, nurses, farmers, we are human beings. Humans are designed to create. Everyone has a dream. Everyone has the ability to create that dream into something tangible that will sustain them both financially and spiritually – I truly believe that. Cybersmarties is about allowing children the freedom and safety to dream, to create. People aren’t inspired by following the status quo. They are inspired by those who allow them to be inspirational.