It is in the small details that Cyber-bullying can be prevented

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Wenqian Xu
System Administrator of Cybersmarties Ltd.

Details Determine Success or Failure.

Bullying exists everywhere, not only in school but also in daily life. However, with the high rapid development of the internet and social networks, cyber-bullying is becoming more and more prevalent and one of the most emergent social issues of our time. Because of the rapid speed and low age membership of social networks, it seems like anyone can say what they wish, whenever they wish and without consequences. However, this also means because of its global context, that if cyber-bullying occurs, the results can be far worse than bullying in real life. Cyberbullying is a behavioural problem as CEO of Cybersmarties Ltd, Diarmuid Hudner has said, behaviour is always the root cause of anti-social cyber behaviour.

In itself, there is nothing wrong with social networks; kids just don’t know how to use them properly. Based on this idea, we took a positive approach and developed the first educational social network for primary school kids to deal with cyber-bullying. In Cybersmarties, children can learn how to use social networks responsibly on a network that is built just for them. As I wrote in previous articles, Cybersmarties has several outstanding features in our system to help kids to avoid cyber-bullying and change their behaviour, including a Smart Content Filter System, Emotional based Reporting System, Reward System and Fully Monitored System etc. Additionally, there are also several particular details which the Cybersmarties Team has already developed or is attempting to develop specifically for kids, not only in the system, but also in other areas.

Detail 1: Constantly Weekly Blog to raise awareness of dealing with Cyberbullying

The Cybersmarties Team is a young team, but we do care very much about kids and their welfare. So, if you subscribe to our blog site, “Like” our Facebook page or follow Cybersmarties Twitter, each week one of the Cybersmarties Team writes an article to talk about how to deal with cyber-bullying from different angles and share our thoughts about topics in general which affect society. This is for you to get to know us, the people behind the machines, what motivates and saddens us, who we are as individuals, ordinary people from different cultures and backgrounds but who are united in attempting to shape our society for the better. We also have a very strong consultant team to guide us – Dr. Patricia Mannix McNamara, Senior Lecturer, Education Dept, University of Limerick; Pat Courtney, Director of Anti-Bullying Services and John Wills, Education/training Development Consultant. As the former National Anti-Bullying Coordinator of the SPHE Support Service (2009-2014), Pat Courtney has written an Educators Guidebook and Student Workbook for schools, which is based on the Cybersmarties site, integrating it with the SPHE Curriculum. Teachers can follow the curriculum using this guidebook, to educate their students how to deal with cyber-bullying and how to be safe on the Internet. The feedback has been fantastic from both teachers and students and has motivated us to continue improving and expanding.

Detail 2: Symbols and images support for special needs school

In addition to mainstream schools, Cybersmarties also provides a system for Special Needs Schools. We have a separate system called – “Super Cybersmarties” which is designed specifically for special needs schools. During the free trial period, we received lots of positive feedback and many good suggestions. We are there to help so we constantly encourage users to help us improve our site. We also respond very quickly to these good suggestions. For instance, we got a suggestion from a teacher of a special needs school in the Dublin area, who suggested to us that some of her students were finding it hard to recognize the words in the Sports, Music and other cool stuff sections. For these students, they were finding it difficult to read because they are more visually orientated. This would never have occurred to us because we are not teachers; we are social network creators and behavioural analysts. Our team received this suggestion on Friday afternoon, 15th April 2016. Because our team really wanted to help these special students and totally understood their frustrated feelings of not being able to make new friends, through hard work over the weekend, on Monday, 18th April 2016, we added a new function to include symbols and images support specifically for these kids in only 2 days, like below in Screenshot 1, which completely resolved the problem and also aided students in word association.

Image Support

Screenshot 1. Symbol and Image Support Function

Detail 3: Description Videos of Cybersmarties

Because Cybersmarties is a locked-down system, without named accounts, nobody can access our system. We have a zero-tolerance policy on this, always choosing safety over popularity. All children are authenticated through their schools. On one hand, it is the first predator-free network which protects kids. However on the other hand, it is very difficult for us to show our site to visitors. So, our team also made several descriptive videos of both inside and outside the site with different parts of our system for visitors to view. All videos can be found in Cybersmarties Home Page – http://www.cybersmarties.com, like below in Screenshot 2. During this summer, we will continue to produce a series of descriptive videos to teach children how to use Cybersmarties, how to use Cybersmarties to educate positive behaviour, how to set up their own online profile properly and how to communicate with friends more responsibly etc.

Loading Page Videos

Screenshot 2. Videos in Cybersmarties Home Page

Detail 4: Individual School Forum

In Cybersmarties, all students and teachers belong to their own School Groups. We also provide a fully individual school forum for each school. In the school forum, teachers can create new topics to send messages to their class for multiple purposes. For instance, if a teacher wants to remind their students about a sports event or practise for their First Holy Communion, they can simply create a new topic and type in locations, time, notes and other information. Then, all their students will receive notifications like below in Screenshot 3.

School Forum

Screenshot 3. School Forum and Notification

Due to limited time, in this article, I can only introduce these four particular details of Cybersmarties to deal with Cyberbullying and how to provide better services for teachers, students and schools. There are much more details in Cybersmarties waiting for you to discover and personally I guarantee that we will keep creating and improving our services all the time. Hope you like this blog and see you next time.

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