What’s Rare is Wonderful


Diarmuid Hudner – CEO of CyberSmarties

“We need technology in every classroom and in every student and teacher’s hand, because it is the pen and paper of our time, and it is the lens through which we experience much of our world.”
– David Warlick

It’s not very often I get excited. Watching my favourite team win may cause a raised eyebrow but is unlikely to register a change in heart pulse. It’s the way I am for better or for worse. Something which does cause a flutter however is when something new is created from nothing which will result in a discernible change in society.

Of course I am biased here as the reason I am excited is directly related to something we as a company have created. For a long time now, we have been beverishly working away on a system which would ensure children enjoyed all the benefits of social media but without any of its dangers. It seemed like an impossible task but therein was the challenge we accepted.

Cybersmarties had already created a safe social educational network for kids, which is an educational tool for schools to educate children through behavioural technology how to act responsibly online, protect themselves and ensure a better way in the future of how social media is used. And it has been working great, everybody loves it and now it looks like we are expanding into Holland but there was an itch we couldn’t scratch and the Team at Cybersmarties wasn’t happy about it.

The issue was, what happened after school or at weekends or during the holidays. If kids were being taught how to behave online during school then wouldn’t it be better if they could use this knowledge after school to good effect. The problem was, how do we ensure the safety of children using this system outside of school since safety is our first priority?

The boffins here at Cybersmarties have been working here day and night on a system which would detect instances of harassment or cyber-bullying immediately and also provide a Referee System by which appropriate behaviour is ensured. Something which was also a personal goal of mine was to ensure the protection of the child who lacked self-esteem or confidence and who would therefore be too afraid to report harassment until it was too late. These issues needed to be rectified and last week we succeeded. I wont bore you with the number of algorithms and complex number sequences which we had to come up with but basically it allows a team of expert “Cyber Referees” to fully monitor the system in or out of school, seven days a week. This now means your child can use Cybersmarties in a fully locked down, advertising free system, make friends with other kids and exchange messages, play games, jokes and enter competitions and all the time they are free from harassment as it is detected immediately, dealt with and positively educated around. From a parents or teachers point of view there is the peace of mind from knowing that children are not talking to anyone they shouldn’t be talking to, negative behaviour is dealt with immediately and reported upon whilst at the same time the kids are enjoying it as it is built just for them.

The implications of this new system are huge. You need not worry now about who your child is talking to, what they are saying and what is being said to them. That’s all taken care of and whats more, the behavioural technology is constantly moulding positive behaviour, the daily positive messages and videos are boosting their self-esteem and encouraging them to be creative and be the best they can be and the games, jokes etc are making it a cool, fun space for them to hang out together.

So yes I got excited this week. There may have been even a slight curling of the lip into a faint smile, but then what’s rare is wonderful.

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.


Report, Educate and Eradicate Cyberbullying

Wenqian Xu: Photo by Nick McDonogh

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!

St. Patrick’s Day and The Irish Abroad

When I found out it was my turn to write this week’s blog I was nervous. The first blog I wrote was about a cyber-bullying incident in school, and how even though it was dealt with “correctly” by the school, preventing such incidents by changing the behaviour at a younger age should be a higher priority. So that blog was easier for me to write.

So in my search for a topic to write about, St. Patrick’s day has come and past and the whole world celebrated Ireland, the Irish and our culture. Monuments around the world were lit up green, parades were held, and it was a another great day to be proud to be Irish.

pictures from Tourism Ireland


pictures from Tourism Ireland
Photo by H. Warren

And that’s where I drew my inspiration for this short piece.

Ireland, the Irish, and the Irish abroad.

Unfortunately emigration and Ireland go hand in hand. Since the famine, generation after generation has left the Emerald Isle in search of work abroad. 70 million people across the world now claim Irish ancestry. Even Barack Obama has claimed Irish ancestry! Emigration is not something to be proud of; it has always been an economic necessity due to a succession of ineffective governments, with often the best and brightest Ireland has to offer enriching the culture and economy of the country they emigrate to. The social aspect of leaving Ireland is very real and very emotional for those leaving and those left behind because Home is always Home wherever you end up living. Fortunately it is now easier to remain in touch with our loved ones with the emergence of social media.

And that’s where I yet again, will introduce you to CyberSmarties.

The world is a big place when your family is on the other side of it, but social media can bring us closer together. As we are in talks with schools across the globe, we are giving Irish schools the opportunity to link up with other schools world wide, via our social network, and giving your children their first opportunity to connect with cousins their own age, on a locked down, safe social network designed for them! How nice would it be for your son or daughters family in Australia, Canada, the US or wherever they now live, having the ability for their kids to communicate with kids from the very school they went to themselves. That will create a link far better and stronger than a postcard or email; it is something tangible, something real, something that brings them back home. Joint projects can be shared and maybe even trips; we are only limited by our own imagination as to how far we can grow this. So if you have a son or daughter, brother or sister abroad with kids of primary school age, ask them to get in touch with us and we will get them in touch with their home school here in Ireland. Lets make the world a smaller place. Please contact us at admin@cybersmarties.com or visit www.cybersmarties.com


The Road Less Travelled Has No Potholes

Diarmuid Hudner Picture: Adrian Butler
Diarmuid Hudner
Picture: Adrian Butler

The road less travelled has less potholes.

CyberSmarties.com came from an idea in a book. It was less than an idea; it was more of a whisper that we could do things better. So over two and a half years of heartbreak, walletbreak, absolutely no help break and countless kicks in the teeth break, we got it off the ground in January 2016. Cybersmarties is being referred to as revolutionary in how cyber-bullying is being approached: the University of Limerick is independently carrying out analysis on the positive behavioural changes in kids on social media as a result of using CyberSmarties. We are now talking to schools around the globe.

But stopping cyber-bullying is not why we built CyberSmarties… we built it because we believe in creativity… and when one removes the obstacles which hamper and suffocate the human spirits ability to create then only one thing will happen… creativity will flourish. I’m tired of how society is, what we have become and how we have allowed ourselves give up our freedom inch by inch. Being human is being individual, to believe you are playing a part in this world because you have something to contribute. Somehow society has immersed us in a fog of making one believe your opinion is not important, or that having a moral conscience is something to be laughed at, that you should shut up, say nothing, keep it in and go along. We live by one motto here… keep going no matter what happens… it can be a lonely road but one we would rather travel alone than follow the herd in the wrong direction.

CyberSmarties is more about its people than its inventions, because without its people our inventions would mean nothing. They are part of it, it’s a living organism. A closed fist has power… even more so when its opened to reveal its made up of five individual parts. CyberSmarties is just the beginning, we are bringing more ideas to fruition in the next few months they all have one purpose; they are there to help you be creative in your life. They will not make you better looking, or get you a new car, or find you the man or woman of your dreams, but they will help you be creative and think again of how you are important and part of something much bigger than watching the Kardashians.

In the last few weeks we have designed a Safe Educational Social Network for Special Needs Schools.

We want to make it free!

But we need your help.

If you are a company and want to sponsor a school for a year then please get in touch! We are doing our part but we need help!
Please join us on the road less travelled to a better place.

Technology, Social Network and Cyberbullying

Graduation Avatar 3

Wenqian Xu – System Administrator of Cybersmarties Ltd.

It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.
– Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities in 1859

Technology is changing our world and is also changing our life. After the First and Second Industrial Revolutions, we are now in the Third Industrial Revolution, better known as the Information or Digital Revolution. The feature to this revolution is the mass production and widespread use of digital logic circuits, and its derived technologies, including the computer, digital cellular phone, and the Internet. With the development of the Internet, Websites always play the major role and basically, hundreds of different types of websites constitute the whole content of the Internet world.

Now for the technical bit….the internet has evolved just like human beings have evolved and in tandem with consumer wants and desires. Since Web 2.0 came out – a standard Web 2.0 website may allow users to interact and collaborate with each other in a social media dialogue as creators of user-generated content in a virtual community, instead of “old” websites where people are limited to the passive viewing of content which is called Web 1.0. The Social Network is one of typical types in Web 2.0. In a social network, each user can post update, add photos or videos, talk with each other in private message, check and comment on every update of friends etc. Yes, exactly like Facebook. People suddenly find there are much less restrictions here compared to the real world. They can communicate with each other at any time, at any place and the most frightening – say anything they want. That’s no problem for adults if we accept that everyone has the right to free speech but what about access for children? Should children be exposed to unfettered, unrestricted and unaccountable content in this new revolution? We think not….children should be protected in this cyber world just as they are in the physical world. We have a responsibility as a species to protect our young.

Maybe parents out there will say that social media is too dangerous and kids shouldn’t be able to use it at all. Actually, kids are technology mad, with it quite rare to find a youngster not having at least some access to the Internet and social network pages through their phone, tablet or games. The legal age is 13 (In Western Society not considered an adult) to access social networks but kids as young as 10 are gaining access by changing their date of birth. The age is not enforced and so is again unrestricted – it’s like leaving a jar of sweets in a room with the lid off and expecting kids not to take one. There are safety measures which can be taken like restricting access to certain sites but just like we did when we were young, kids find ways to bypass adults without their knowledge. Just like in the Industrial Revolution when kids were used in the coal mines, there will always be those out there who wish to exploit them unless those of us with a social conscience stand up for them. We cannot stop progress but we can stop exploitation and access to dangers of predators and cyberbullying and this starts with education. What is needed is education and behavioural change at an early age BEFORE they get onto social media.

Based on this idea, through two and a half years of development, we designed a brand new product – Cybersmarties.com, which is the first safe educational social network specifically for primary schools. At Cybersmarties, kids are strictly identified and authenticated as kids. This hasn’t been done before. There are no adults on the system, except responsible Principals and Teachers in the school.

Bear with me…I’m the techie guy!! Using the re-designed content filter system, kids are taught which words are inappropriate and might make the intended receiver upset. Through this built-in mechanism, it will educate and “force” kids not to use inappropriate words. Unless they get rid of these bad words, they can’t send any messages to anyone. We believe most kids are born with kind and pure intentions. We believe there are no kids who intentionally go out to cyberbully others – they just haven’t been taught properly. Sometimes, the cyberbully today may become the victim tomorrow. In most cases, kids act before thinking through the consequences of their actions (many adults guilty of this also) and so we slow down and mould positive action until it becomes a habit for them. Cybersmarties remind kids to think again and educates them to message appropriately.

Content filter

There are lots of other features in Cybersmarties. In my next article, I will describe another outstanding sub-system – Flag Report System to explain our new philosophy – “Educate rather than Punish”. See you next time.

Wenqian Xu is the Systems Administraion Manager at Cybersmarties.com