7 Ways To Encourage Mindful Technology Usage at Home

Research shows that children ages 5-16 spend an average of at least six hours a day on their screens. Children having this level of accessibility to screens and devices at home is a relatively new phenomenon, but research already indicates that too much screen time negatively impacts children.

Since access to devices and screens aren’t going away (and will likely only increase), parents now look for opportunities to give children the mindset and toolkit to live with technology, especially as they grow up and make their own choices. We’ve curated 7 top tips that encourage children to be mindful of how they use their devices at home so they can receive the positive benefits of technology, while avoiding the downsides of overuse.

Happy African American mother and her little daughter using laptop.

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Securly’s Quarterly Impact Report

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’s Audience

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.

Heatmap of paid customers

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%.

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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.

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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).

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How Securly Sees the Whole Picture:

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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.  

Beware of Cyberbullying: 9 Apps To Watch Out For

Sad teen with a phone in her bedroom

Cyberbullying can happen at any time. Abuse and harassment online often follow children home from school, and kids often feel like there is no escape. As a parent, you want your child to be able to explore the internet safely. And they can, with adequate knowledge of the risks involved. Check out our blog for tips on keeping your child safe online.

It’s also important to be aware. Here is a list of sites and apps where cyberbullying commonly occurs.

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The 10 Types of Cyberbullying

October is National Bullying Prevention Month, and schools across the United States are standing up against bullying, and educating on prevention. But before we work to prevent it, it’s important to understand what cyberbullying is.

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Suicide Prevention: How Can Parents Help Their Kids?

Suicide is now the second leading cause of death among 10 to 24-year-olds. A variety of factors contribute to the intolerable anguish a suicidal student feels, and they may not be able to see the help that is available to them. Parents can play a crucial role by intervening and supporting their child to prevent any more lives lost to suicide.

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6 Parenting Tips On Helping Your Child Transition To A New School

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The first day of school is quickly approaching. Adjusting to a new school, teachers, classes, and people can be difficult. It can be easy to feel overwhelmed and vulnerable.

Will I fit in? Will I find my classes? What if I get lost? What if I can’t make any new friends?

Whether your child is starting middle school or high school, it’s common to have the jitters. Here are some things you can do with your child that will support them through this time of transition.

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A Different Perspective on the State of K-12 Web Filtering

A History of Content Filtering in Schools                                  securlylogo_black

Pornography Filtering & URL List Race

I first began selling web filtering solutions to school IT and Network Administrators in 2004. The CIPA law had recently been passed, so schools were eagerly spending money on filtering appliances to protect their students. The industry was flooded with new companies entering the market, and popular firewalls added web filtering to their UTM lineup.

Back then, schools focused on blocking pornography when selecting a solution. Each vendor pitched that they had more porn sites in their database than other filters, that they blocked the largest number of categories, and that they had better update mechanisms, including “100% human verified” databases. The cat-and-mouse game sales pitch was working well.

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PageScan: A Deep Dive Into Securly’s URL Categorization Technology

Note: Lightspeed Systems’ VP of Marketing has distributed information about our URL categorization technology to 1000s of districts across US including to many of our customers without allowing us to investigate their claims. In our opinion, this breaks norms in the security industry for Responsible Disclosure, potentially breaks norms around advertising without reasonable substantiation, and also brings to question the very motive behind the approach and its relevance to actually helping student safety. Securly is choosing to keep this discussion focused on facts, technology and student safety. Please read our earlier response from Securly’s co-founder/CRO Bharath Madhusudan on this topic.

In this article, we provide a multi-step technical take on all the information being circulated. With facts and data, we proceed to distill truth from competitive marketing. The article is split into the following sections:

  • How does Securly’s URL categorization work?
  • Video: Our PageScan technology in action.
  • Securly’s take on why the information being circulated lacks scientific rigor, and reasonableness in advertising competitive claims.
  • Why did Lightspeed’s tests with PageScan fail?
  • How would Securly have fared if Lightspeed had used the PageScan cluster?
  • Examining the effectiveness of Securly’s PageScan technology against Alexa’s Adult Category of sites using a scientific experimentation framework.

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Securly’s Response to Lightspeed Systems’ Competitive Study

Today, Lightspeed Systems issued the results of an internal competitive study that positions Securly’s and another vendor’s products as inferior in enforcing CIPA compliance.

Our initial instinct was to not respond since it was apparent to us how the market generally reacted. Having said that, the amount of concern coming from our customer and prospect base compels us to issue a fact-based response of who Securly is and why we do what we do. I have organized my response into 3 distinct sections:

  • What is student safety, really? With the advent of 1:1 programs, does “CIPA Compliance” and “Student Safety” mean the same thing in the year 2018?
  • PageScan – The portion of our product that acts as the first line of defense for inappropriate websites.
  • The team behind PageScan and Securly. Why we feel qualified to build security products for K-12.

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7 Tips On Keeping Your Child Safe Online

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Children learn about stranger danger from a very young age. We remind them about the importance of their safety whenever they step out of the home. Those same cautions should be applied to the cyber world.

Children are beginning to use the internet at younger ages. They have access to oodles of information at their fingertips and the ability to network instantly across distances. But there are some real risks and safety concerns when it comes to the world wide web.

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