Children need to be educated about how to respond online to protect themselves from cyber bullying.
A NEW online social network designed specifically for seven to 12-year-olds aims to change how children use social media in the future.
www.Cybersmarties.com ticks boxes when it comes to keeping kids safe – both from online predators and cyber-bullies.
It’s being rolled out nationwide and is the brainchild of Diarmuid Hudner, author of ‘Im Happy Now.Com’, a secondary school teacher/student resource, and ‘Bullying & Other Emotional Issues: A Practical Guide for Primary Schools Teachers’.
“I realised we were addressing cyber-bullying the wrong way – we have to look at behaviour prior to kids going on more adult social networks.
"Cybersmarties.com is like stabilisers on a bike — it prepares children with the right tools to protect themselves until they can go out on their own.”
On Cybersmarties.com children make friends based on what they’ve got in common (i.e. sports, music) rather than on appearance or what peer group they belong to. There are no photos — children choose from a range of avatars.
"The ‘like’ button can contribute hugely to cyber-bullying — there’s none on Cybersmarties.com.
"The site uses behavioural technology and SMART content filters to detect negative words in messages. It doesn’t allow kids send such messages until they’re replaced with something positive or deleted.
“A pop-up appears, telling the child the sentence might upset the other person and to replace it. The average is three days for kids to stop sending messages with negative words,” says Hudner, explaining that correcting their message becomes tedious so they refrain from negativity.
If a child’s feeling low, clicking on the ‘I’m feeling bad’ button links them with positive statements Cybersmarties.com friends have made about them in the past.
The site is the first “locked down” child authenticated network.
“Each child is authenticated as a real child. Until now we’ve had ‘child safe’ sites, with parents using credit cards. This only authenticates the parent – who could be an adult without children.”
Cybersmarties.com has a ‘homework section’ (teachers upload homework, kids login at home to access), ‘coding section’ teaching how to code and ‘wellbeing section’ based on mental/physical/spiritual education, as well as games, jokes and competitions.
* If interested in Cybersmarties.com for your child, ask school principal to email Diarmuid@cybersmarties.com for 30-day free trial.
* Activate parental control section on search engines/ YouTube. Easy to find under ‘settings’ function.
* Enforce rules around when/for how long kids spend on social media.
* Teach children to be polite and not mean to others — this communicates online too.
* Talk to children about what’s going on with them/their friends.
* Reassurance: Boosting self- confidence shields them from bullies.
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