Online Parks

brenny

Brendan Woodage
Operations at CyberSmarties

CyberSmarties took a two week break from work recently. After our first eight months of tirelessly working towards our goal of creating a safe space for children online, we decided that it was time for some time off. My colleagues immediately used this time to both spend time with their kids, and visit their parents, while I spent my time off catching up on boxsets and taking trips to my local park.

Now I’m forever observing. I enjoy sitting back and watching. I enjoy learning my surroundings and analysing and understanding who and what is in my immediate vicinity. So although my holidays were spent relaxing, I still managed to learn a lesson or two.

I journeyed to the park five times over my time off. There was this particular spot under a large tree that I went to that was near the playing field in case I wanted to go for a run, but also gave me a good view of the rest of the park. Each day that I sat there with my headphones on, I’d see the same faces. There were the same boys out kicking a football around, the same people walking their dogs, and the same mothers or fathers out with their kids. It was this that got me thinking. As a child I lived in England and there was a park that I used to visit called Victoria Park, across the road from my house. My parents would bring my siblings and I to the park every opportunity they had and it was there that I learned to ride my first bike, where I first went to kick a ball with my dad, etc. I remember wanting to spend all of my time there, to explore the park by myself. But my mother told me that you couldn’t stay at the park forever and that I was not allowed to go to the park by myself until I was old enough. By the time I was old enough, we had moved to Ireland. The thing is that as I watched the people at the park in Limerick, I realised that the same thing was happening here. Kids were having their first experiences here. You could see their love for the park growing. They were building up memories with their parents, learning how to do new things, being social, and having fun. Even the teenagers who were playing ball were having a great time.

And so, this park; in my eyes, reminds me of the internet and social media. It’s a place where you can socialise, meet friends, have fun, and learn new things. But you wouldn’t let your kids go to the park by themselves if there weren’t old enough just like you shouldn’t let kids be on grown up social networks when they’re not old enough. Cybersmarties Fully Monitored System is the age appropriate safe stepping stone to teach kids how to behave, be safe and communicate online. It is the stabilisers of the bike. The kids are going to move on to other social networks as they grow older, and explore different parks. But making sure that they’ve learned the right skills to protect themselves before they venture out into the wider world is a must, and with CyberSmarties, not only do we have interactive games and coding lessons, jokes, competitions, and daily positive reinforcement, but we have behavioural technology to ensure that when the child moves to their next social network, that they’ll be safe, educated, and happy, free to enjoy an “online park” which is creative, nurturing, fun, educational and above all is safe.

Luminosity

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Diarmuid Hudner
CEO of Cybersmarties Ltd.

As a writer I suppose I have always been interested in words, the way they sound, the way they are used in language, their numerous meanings. The word “Luminosity” I came across listening to music by Mark Richter. In the Western World “luminosity” is given its scientific definition which is the brightness of a celestial object relative to the brightness of the sun. To me though its definition seemed a little less luminous than what I had hoped. Until by accident yesterday in a moment of planetary boredom I came across the word in another program about the Urdu language of Pakistan (I shall clear up quickly here that I do not just watch obscure documentaries, I am an avid Games of Thrones fan…Winter is coming….or as we say in Ireland, Winter’s never left).

In the Urdu language, luminosity means the quality of being luminous, emitting or reflecting light. Now this seemed a lot more interesting a word to me as there is something wholly human about that word, not a celestial object in sight. For me humans are luminous creatures. When people are happy, we emit light which affects others. We’ve heard the phrases like “She is glowing” or “She lit up the room with her smile”. To me when people are happy their faces literally shine, it is a natural human instinct which is infectious to all others present. When someone smiles you involuntarily smile back. The same cant be said of scowling I may add, I’ve tried it and it doesn’t work.

This brings me to another point about luminosity and its meaning. What kind of light do you want to emit to the world? Is it a negative light which darkens the mood of others, the kind of light that people are afraid of, shirk away from, do not want to be around? Or do you want to radiate light, making others feel better for a while because you have brightened their day. Let’s expand this point a little further. Imagine when a whole crowd of people emit light of happiness and what affect that has. I wonder can it be measured, the positive effect of human luminosity. At Cybersmarties, we hope that our technology through its safety and creativity allows children that ability to shine and only good can come from that.

Something else to ponder. Another documentary I watched recently (I’m losing my own argument here about viewing tastes!!) was about human DNA. A group of people of different nationalities, of all religions and colours were asked to define who they were, what their nationality meant to them, what they thought about other nationalities. The views were unsurprising – The Englishman disliked the Germans, The Jewish person disliked the Palestinian, The Russian disliked Americans and so on. Then all of them were asked to submit their DNA for testing and the results were very interesting. The Englishman had 5% German in him, the Jewish person was 24% Palestinian and so it went on. In all cases no person was 100% of their own nationality. We are not who we think we are, we are particles of this earth, a celestial object of our ancestors from every nation on earth. I wonder if people would think the same about bombing and killing and invading other countries if they knew they had in fact distant relatives living there. Perhaps we should all be made do a DNA test. In the wake of the terrible loss of life in Turkey and Iraq, I wonder what light the human race is emitting now: is it infectious or infected? So yes indeed humans are luminous creatures but we are reflecting many colours in our light.

Just has to be done

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Wenqian Xu
System Administrator of Cybersmarties Ltd.

“Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift of God, which is why we call it the present.” – Bil Keane

Many people are always worried about something. For instance, in the morning people are worried about the heavy traffic which might cause them to be late for work; During work, people are worried about other people’s opinions and trying to guess what is on someone’s mind; After work, people are worried about choosing dinner. Even before sleep, people are still worried about sleeping in the next morning which will make them late for work etc. Such a life is like a “perfect” circle, if you get lost in it, it’s very hard to shake off.

“Worry often gives a small thing a big shadow.” – Swedish Proverb

I myself had such an experience just in this month. At the beginning of June, I finally finished all my essential 12 lessons to obtain a full Irish driving license. It took quite a long time, almost every weekend. Although I hold a driving license in my home country of China, I needed to get used to driving on the left because I am used to driving on the right. For one hour each week, I tried to remember all the rules of the road (like how to enter a roundabout properly etc.). So, the only thing on my mind was to pass the driving test as soon as possible just in case I forget the skills and knowledge which I learnt from my driving instructor. Upon completion of my lessons I applied to sit my full driving test. However, after two weeks I heard nothing, no emails, no calls, nothing. So here was where the worrying started. At that time, I was starting to make lots of “strange” assumptions – Is something wrong with my application? Did I choose a wrong available date for the test? etc. After work, the first thing I did when I got back home was to check the RSA website, log in to my account and check my application status. To be honest, just looking back at it now, it reminds me of a quote from Leo Buscaglia –

“Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.”

So, what made me finally stop worrying was a talk with my boss – Diarmuid Hudner. Actually just one sentence which he usually says, simple but powerful –

“Just has to be done.”

Taking the above as an example, just thinking about passing the driving test is a thing which “just has to be done.” If something is wrong with my application, the driving test centre will eventually notify me to correct it. If I choose the wrong available date for a test, at least there are some days I can choose which would be suitable. According to the rules, when I get the test date, I still have 2 opportunities to reschedule for free. I also ask myself, is there anything I can do that I haven’t done? The answer is no. So, the only thing left is patience and leave it be.

This methodology also works in relation to everyday worries as discussed in my first paragraph. “Starting work on time” is a thing which just has to be done. Why not get up earlier or prepare everything the night before in order to save time in the morning? Furthermore, lots of research reveals that trying to read someone’s mind usually doesn’t work too well at all. So, why not communicate and ask what you want to ask? You might say it won’t be so easy in real life which I totally understand and agree with. But… at least it’s one way which can help us stop worrying and stay positive, isn’t it? And it works for me.

So, no more worries, things just have to be done. If something happens, find a solution to solve it. That’s it. Simple but powerful.

In the end, as a technical guy, it’s my first time to write something about psychology and methodology. Hope you like it and hope it helps you too. Thank you very much.

Why Education should Flourish

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Dr. Patricia Mannix McNamara
Senior Lecturer, Education Dept. University of Limerick

I can be changed by what happens to me but I refuse be reduced by it.
-Maya Anglou

Mostly we think we are mentally healthy because we do not experience mental illness. We are inclined to think that absence of mental illness means mental health by default. This way of thinking has its roots in the medical model, which has dominated our understanding of health, but this is really problematic because the absence of mental illness does not presuppose good mental health. We assume that we are experiencing physical and mental health and well being if we do not evidence symptoms of illness. How do we know? If we assume that mental health is the absence of psychological illness or distress then if we are meeting daily challenges isn’t that enough? Actually, the important measures are simpler:

· Do I experience moments of happiness daily?
· Do I feel joy?
· Do I love?
· Do I laugh often (really laugh)?
· Do I feel free to say what I really think and to act feely upon it?
· Do I have goals in life? Am I capable of meeting them?

We often confuse existence with mental health but absence of mental illness is not synonymous with mental health or wellbeing. Languishing is not enough. Passive definitions of mental health (absence of illness) do significant disservice to health gain. Some people like Corey Keyes and Maureen Gaffney argue that flourishing is what we should strive for. Flourishing they see as active living and reaching the most optimal level of human functioning. A flourishing person’s life is filled with happiness, goodness, creativity, growth, and resilience. Sound good?

The reason why this is so important is that as adults if we settle for existence rather than flourishing as our way of living, and if we accept existence as our standard of mental health then we teach our children that this is standard to live by.

Recently I was attending a conference about teaching and there was a young child present in the audience beside me. The speaker asked the audience a seemingly simple question: What makes a good teacher? The answers from the audience (of academics) were of course informed and included things like excellent pedagogy (teaching strategies); excellent subject knowledge and care for student learning. I turned to the child beside me knowing that they were best positioned to answer this question because they live with this every school day. So I asked him:

“What do you think? What do you think makes a good teacher?”

His reply was simple, only three words and quite profound:

“A happy one.”

It does not get any clearer than that!

A happy teacher is more than likely a flourishing one, whose professional life is fulfilling and who communicates mental health in their very being. This challenges us to ask are we happy? Do we experience moments of happiness daily? Do we communicate mental health in our very being?

Why settle for existing…isn’t flourishing worth striving for?

Going forward with Real Confidence

brenny

Brendan Woodage
Operations at CyberSmarties

“You are not what you eat, you are not what you wear, you are not what you do. You are You”Im Happy Now.Com

If you feared nothing, what kind of person would you become?
If you had all the confidence in the world, what kind of person would you become?

Most people believe that confidence is the overcoming of fear. Yes, if you feared nothing you would be a more confident person, but rejecting and burying fear does not gain you confidence, it gains you momentary and circumstantial bravery. Only though acceptance of fear, can you become a more confident person. Everyone wants to be more confident in one way or another and to understand real confidence you must understand some core elements that we live by here at CyberSmarties. Elements that promote positive thinking, positive behaviour, and positive lives. Elements that we teach the students using CyberSmarties via our positive social network. Over the course of my next three blogs, I will discuss these elements that we actively promote.

Real confidence is not forced.

As much as this may seem a given, real confidence is not forced. In human interaction, conversation, and in a social setting, you can’t just pump yourself up to be confident. Confidence doesn’t work this way. For example, if you were to approach a stranger that you have never spoken to before, you like most people would bury your fear deep inside of you and instil a false sense of confidence by “pumping yourself up” to get you “confident”. But, by swallowing one’s fear, then fear subconsciously gains control of your body. There is a difference between this and acknowledging the fear for the illusion it is, accepting that and moving forward with the confidence now that there is nothing actually to fear.

Real confidence comes from instilling a calm within. Having a calm within is actually a frame of mind which grows from knowing that you are perfect the way you are. At the same time it acknowledges that you have weaknesses, which need to be worked on and overcome rather than being a slave to them. It allows you to own your own emotions and have as much control as possible when entering a new interaction. It also gives you the ability to read and feel another person’s emotions when conversing, as well as the ability to connect with the other person on a deeper, subconscious level. This not only gives you more real confidence with every social interaction with people, but it gives other people more confidence in you, your character, and your abilities.

FEAR – False Evidence Appearing Real

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Diarmuid Hudner
CEO of Cybersmarties Ltd.

Recently I saw the above acronym for the word “Fear”. I thought it was very apt and how unfortunately most people experience fear without seeing it for what it is. Like power which I wrote about recently, Fear is also an illusion. Everyone experiences fear at some stage of their lives and the majority of us live with some form of it on a daily basis. Fear comes in many guises; fear of the unknown, fear of failure, fear of success, physical fear and social fear like a fear of public speaking or how we look. Fears do appear very real to us no matter how much of an illusion they are and they can be crippling, suffocating and draining. So what causes these fears and how are they overcome? The one common denominator between them is that something can be done to overcome them. All of us have negative behavioural habits based in fear. They govern the extent to which we live a fulfilling life or reach our full potential.

Negative Behavioural Habits are routines we have picked up over time, normally linked to something that has occurred in our lives, like we spoke in public once and everyone laughed. Others are those which are pre-conditioned from our upbringing. If our parents were very cautious, risk adverse people then it is likely that we would be too as we associate any type of risk with danger. Negative habits we have learned, however difficult can be broken. Positive behavioural triggers can be implemented to cause a reflex positive response instead of a negative one. It takes work and effort but the reward is greater than to live in fear.

Confidence and self-belief in my opinion is at the root of most of these fears and it begins when we were children. We learn a lot in school, the politics of friendship, the travesty of love scorned; school can be tough. How much different do you think your life would be today if your confidence had been boosted every day? Do you think you would have made different decisions in your life, better decisions? I believe I would certainly have made different life choices if I had been a more confident child. I would not have procrastinated and let opportunities slip away, would have attempted new things more often because I would not have been afraid of rejection or failure. Luckily I was later in a position which taught me how to change these negative habits into positive ones where fear no longer was in the driving seat but it took time and effort.

I think there is an onus on parents to ensure their children are as confident and self-reliant as they can possibly be. I think that is one of the gifts a parent can pass on to their children, not their own insecurities but rather to ensure their children have very few of them. Parents can’t rely on teachers to do this, it’s time we took ownership of that. At Cybersmarties we look after their online confidence, that’s all we do; protect them, keep them safe, fill them with confidence and teach them positive behavioural habits. We’re in this together.

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.

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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.

Why do we do what we do?

Written by Brendan Woodage Operations Manager at CyberSmarties
Brendan Woodage
Operations Manager at CyberSmarties

Every time that is my week to write a blog, I try to think of something to write about and that inevitably ends up with me asking myself questions. Questions about myself, questions about society, questions about the Irish frame of mind, and that in turn always leads me to ask the reader a question too. And this week has been no different. My question for you this week is;
Why do we do what we do?

Do we need a reason to do what we do, other than we feel that it is the right thing to do, and that we have the ability to do it?

I’ll explain where my question comes from before I explain my answer.

I was at an exhibition recently, where multiple entrepreneurs where explaining their ideas and companies to each other. There were people who created organisations for the elderly, organisations to help deal with depression, organisations to create social activities for young people that don’t involve alcohol and while the list goes on with wonderful ideas, each and every one of the entrepreneurs had a personal connection to the problem they were trying to solve. So when it came to my turn to explain CyberSmarties, I explained who we are, what we do, and why we do it, and I could see by the faces of my fellow entrepreneurs that they were expecting to hear a different story. They were expecting to hear my personal journey, or how cyberbullying has affected me. They wanted to know my personal connection to the problem we try to solve. And the truth is that I don’t have a personal connection. I was never a victim of cyber-bullying.

And that is where my question arose from. Do we need to have a personal connection to a problem to try and solve it? Does that have to be the WHY we are doing it, rather than because we have the ability to do it?

My answer is no.

CyberSmarties is first and foremost a tech company. We could develop technology for any industry but when the company was founded, as a team we decided that we would use our technology to solve social issues. We decided that this was the company vision, not because we were crusading do- gooders but because we could and ethically it was a direction we all wanted to follow. We have created and will continue to create a safe and secure online platform for primary school kids, but more importantly, with our technology we CHOSE to solve a social problem. We choose to tackle cyber bullying not because of its effects on us, but because we have the ability and the desire to make a difference. We do what we do because we can.

And that is why I ask you the reader to ask yourself the same question.

Why do you do what you do?

The Illusion of Power

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Diarmuid Hudner
CEO of Cybersmarties Ltd.

“Another illusion is that external events have the power to hurt you, that other people have the power to hurt you. They don’t. It’s you who give this power to them”
— Anthony de Mello

Power is a very intangible force. It can take many forms and many guises both positive and negative. In relation to bullying or cyber-bullying, it is the perceived power of the bully over their victim, which causes more distress and worry than any physical act. In a physical sense, it could be that the bully is bigger, stronger and more violent that their victim. In a metaphysical sense it is this perceived constant threat of impending harm which the bully wields which causes the real damage. In cyber-bullying it is the perceived power of the anonymous bully multiplied by hundreds if not thousands of anonymous bullies which may cause extreme mental harm. Likewise it is the perceived power of certain people, which in most cases is not physical, which can make life a misery. This doesn’t just happen in schools. This happens throughout our lives. Bullying in the workplace is a constant occurrence. The popular person in school or at work may also wield an immense perceived power if they feel threatened or on the contrary if others feel that they too will have power by being associated with them. However the important point here is that power is an illusion, it is perceived to be true. Like the quote by Anthony de Mello above, power is given away, it is not taken.

Imagine for a moment you believed yourself to be a superhero; the most beautiful specimen of the human race, the most intelligent person on the planet, the strongest, the most charismatic individual who ever walked this earth. Imagine that you don’t just believe it; you know it to be true because you have the sight of a laser-eye treated eagle. To you it is a statement of fact. Let’s assume for a moment you are a good superhero like Superman or Wonder Woman, who doesn’t use their powers for anything other than good deeds. Now imagine that someone said you were ugly or that you were stupid. Imagine they posted pictures of you on social media, ridiculing your fantastic superhero’s costume. You would laugh at them, feel sorry for their lack of sight or understanding for how could an earthling ever compete with a superhero? But of course you wouldn’t make fun of them because obviously real superheroes wouldn’t do that kind of thing. Imagine for a moment you had that self-belief, that armour of confidence which insults bounce off. The reality is of course is that you are that superhero. You only stop becoming one when you stop believing you have that power and give it away.

At Cybersmarties, we are continually trying to make every child believe again that they are superheroes. Children with the lowest self-esteem are cyber-bullied the most. They are also the least likely to report someone who is bullying them because they live in fear. In what kind of world do we live in that any child, your child, is too afraid to say anything because of the perceived power that these bullies have over their lives. Every day we send a positive message or video to each child, seven days a week. There are motivational sayings, inspirational videos to constantly drip feed self-belief and create that armour of confidence. In the fully monitored site we watch out for the person who cant fight for themselves just yet, who cannot report a message because they are too afraid. Our system catches it before it can cause damage. We are working on other areas we can boost self-confidence and will continually work at ways because we believe every child is a superhero even if they don’t know it yet.

In my next blog I am going to discuss how the act of a group or community to ignore perceived power is in itself immensely powerful. Gandhi overthrew the British Empire in this way. The Civil Rights Marches in the 1960’s did the same with institutions of bigotry. They succeeded because they ignored this negative perceived power as a group. In my next blog I will apply that logic to a social media platform and a new way of thinking in how we control cyber-bullying for both adults and children and use it like it was meant to be used, to make friends and share experiences from people across the world.

Educate rather than Punish

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Wenqian Xu – System Administrator of Cybersmarties Ltd.

Man is naturally good and that vice and error are alien to him.
– Jean-Jacques Rousseau, 1712 – 1778

There are many philosophies about human nature. One of them is believing everyone is born with kindness, another is believing human beings were born with original sin. In my opinion, in some ways, both of them are correct. If you believe everyone is born with kindness, then as part of growing up, education, morals etc. will lead you to promote your naturally born kindness. If however, you believe people are born with original sin then laws, policies etc. will restrict and forbid you from exceeding the limits of what a society will endure as being acceptable. However, in this article, I don’t want to discuss the whole nurture versus nature conundrum. What I want to talk about is in relation to children; is education and reward more effective than punishment, or is punishment a greater influence on establishing good behaviour?

I always believe that all children are naturally kind or as in my country we refer to it as of “pure white” paper; no matter you draw, it will reveal itself in the corresponding pictures. All parents want their kids to have good behaviour. That’s why parents and teachers always can’t ignore bad behaviour even when they are told that rewarding good behaviour is more effective than punishing bad behaviour. For them, ignoring bad behaviour may seem like tolerating if not rewarding it and therefore failing in their duty as a parent or teacher. However, research conducted by some Dutch neuroscientists found out why education or rewards are better than punishment.

In their work, they split two groups of children (different ages) to teach them some basic tasks by means of positive, rewarding feedback or negative, “punishing” feedback. The feature of their work is that after teaching, they did the brain scans for both groups of children. Brain images revealed brain areas responsible for cognitive control and located in the cerebral cortex seemed to play a role in why younger and older children learned so differently. For older kids, negative feedbacks or “punishment” seem more effective but for younger kids, positive feedbacks and rewards are much better and more effective.

I believe that we should educate and reward children from the very beginning because younger children may simply have an easier time processing simpler, positive, rewarding information than negative feedback. As I said before, every child is like “pure white” paper. Why do we wait for bad drawings in their “paper”? How about positively educating them in advance? It is about taking a different approach like considering a glass half full or half empty. In addition, our “Negative Content Filter” and “Flag Report System” which I discussed in earlier blogs counters negative behaviour occurring and allows positive habits to take hold at an earlier age.

Based on this idea, the Cybersmarties Team developed a new system called “The Reward System”. The purpose of this Reward System is to encourage children to learn good, positive behaviour, rather than punish them. In our system, there are two kinds of Stars. One of them is a Gold Star, which represents Excellent Behaviour. The other one is a Silver Star, which represents Good Behaviour. Because children like to compare with their friends, we can add these “Stars” into their Profile section, just near their avatar, like a medal. Also, we don’t give any Stars to any student. We always believe professional jobs should be done by professional people. So, we give this permission to teachers who know each child better than us. With our Reward System, students will be encouraged and rewarded for any good behaviour, not just whilst using Cybersmarties, but also for their behaviour in school in general. Therefore we concentrate on the good and not on the bad.

In the end, as Diarmuid said in last week blog, we’re delighted to announce Cybersmarties is developing and building an outstanding, fully monitored system which initially called “Referee System”. With our new Referee System, schools and parents can have the peace of mind knowing that on Cybersmarties, their children are free from harassment, protected and educated in positive behaviour. The Cybersmarties Team is always trying to provide better, safer services to help our kids have a better, fun, creative and more enjoyable experience on social media.