Kids in Crisis – A Glimpse Into the Secret, Digital Lives of Students
Anxiety, depression and suicide attempts are on the rise among American teens, and too often signs and symptoms of these conditions go unreported, undetected or untreated–until it’s too late. A 2017 study links anxiety, depression, suicide attempts and suicide with the rise in use of smartphones, tablets and other devices. And while it’s no secret that technology has become one of the root causes of the spike, it can also be part of the solution. The goal of this impact report is to bring these issues to light, and to help parents and schools be proactive in identifying and addressing potential problems as soon as they are detected.
Securly is on a mission to ensure kids’ safety and promote a kid-friendlier internet. As the leading provider of cloud-based web filtering and device monitoring for schools, Securly is on the front lines of the secret digital lives of teens, with unprecedented visibility into the struggles they deal with daily. Securly offers a range of products and tools ranging from sophisticated AI that recognizes signs of bullying, depression and suicide to 24-hour support from a trained team of Safety Analysts who escalate issues directly to schools and parents.
Securly serves more than 10 million students across 3700 school districts in the United States:
- 52% of students served qualify for free-or-reduced lunch.
- 66% White, 22% Hispanic, and 12% African American.
What Securly Sees
Over 50 Million web pages, email messages, Google documents, web search terms (Google, Bing & Yahoo), social media (YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Google +) scanned per day. Securly AI average processing time is 2 seconds, and the true positive rate for the engine is 92%.
Content Trends in Email Flags
Self-harm numbers are most alarming, with more than 15,000 messages flagged per day indicating potential self-harm, followed by 5,000 indicating violence and 1,000 indicating bullying.
AI + Human Intervention Saving Lives
In a subset of 192 schools that were the first to try the Securly’s 24 service that provides 24/7 review and escalation of flagged content, 49 lives were saved and 14 major bullying* incidents were prevented over 12 months. Approximately one life per week saved. Current response time is 2.4 minutes on average — meaning that urgent situations have a high likelihood of intervention.
Alerts Increase During Peak School Seasons
Not surprisingly, alerts related to kids correspond directly to their school calendar — highest alerts are end-of-school (May) and the beginning of school (September).
How Securly Sees the Whole Picture:
Words from the CEO
“Since our inception five years ago, we have built a breadth of products and services for schools and parents focused on the mission of keeping kids safe online – in school, at home and anywhere off campus. We work with district IT, counselors, educators, and parents to co-manage the various Internet connected devices and online media kids access today. Our products work synergistically where each product informs the other, and allows the parents and districts to get a comprehensive view of student wellness.”
– Vinay Mahadik, CEO
Web Searches Provide Key Insight
“We’ve found that organic web searches are an extremely accurate representation of a student’s state of mind. Emails with friends might hint at something, but searches tell the whole story.”
– Kathleen Boehle, Director of Student Safety Operations
School District Feedback
“For us, the 24 service has helped a lot. It lets us know what is really critical or needs a second look when it comes to protecting our students. For us, we don’t have someone onsite looking at these things 24/7 or even all day during school hours. Being able to have Securly’s staff looking over the info and adding the human element to what is alerting us helps the people involved trust the alerts that get sent to them instead of drowning in false positives and missing important things in the noise.”
– Will Moore, from Joplin School District, MO
Case Studies: Securly in Action
Suicide Prevention: Minutes Matter
Suicide is a very real threat for teens because they are at a phase of development where they have both:
- an inability to see the “big picture”, making problems seem bigger than they are, and
- innate impulsivity, causing them to act before thinking
With Securly’s 24 product, schools can detect within seconds when a teen is in danger of suicide. For example, on October 8, 2018, a student did a search for “I want to die”, “depression” and “my girlfriend broke up with me”, followed up by searches for “suicide” and “how to make a noose” and posts that included “I’m sorry” “I can’t do this anymore” and “I deserve to die.” In this case, Securly immediately contacted the school, and when unable to reach school contacts, then contacted local police who sent an officer to do a wellness check.
Signs of Trouble: The Threat of an Eating Disorder
In addition to suicide, there are a host of potentially other dangerous behaviors teens explore online. A mother of a young teen recently contacted Securly to report that through the Parent Portal product (providing visibility for parents into kids’ web searches and history on school devices), she was able to see that her daughter had spent a significant amount of time searching for how to lose weight and “how to get an eating disorder.” Her mother was alarmed by the searches and was grateful to be able to intervene and counsel her daughter, steering her away from the potential downward spiral of something like anorexia or bulimia. Discovering these hints of problems before they become a full-blown crisis saves families like this one from serious heartache and helps them maintain the health and wellbeing of their children.