Valentine’s Day: We Found Love in an (Unexpected) Place

Valentine’s Day is coming up, and love (and cheesy Hallmark cards) are in the air! Kids are buying each other candy, flowers, and festive singing grams. It’s an exhilarating time for many. What’s not to like about being liked?

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Unless…you don’t feel liked. Valentine’s Day can quickly go from a fun holiday when everyone gets candy to a pressure-packed high school petri dish of hormones, crushes, and fragile self-esteem. We all enjoy feeling cared about, and having the looming cloud of V-doom lingering over you doesn’t help that expectation. It’s hard to be disappointed on what society tells us is the most romantic holiday ever. Like you’re missing out, and you’re the only one feeling that way. It’s called isolation, and it’s something no teenager (or general human being) wants to feel.

Connection is an important part of the human experience. As young people grow into themselves and develop those connections with their peers, interest in and desire for romantic relationships grows. It’s true, romance can be a great way to connect and feel a bond, but it certainly isn’t the only kind of meaningful love out there. For parents of a lonely kid on Valentine’s Day, we’ve got a few suggestions of things to do to show your kids there are many ways to love, and be loved.

Take Them To A Petting Zoo

Petting various adorable animals, need I say more? In addition to the self-explanatory joys of spending time with dogs and cats and llamas, it’s healthy for you. Engaging in social and affectionate touch with animals, who are great companions, can do wonders for our social confidence and happiness. And if your kid feels self-conscious or uncool going to a petting zoo, you can always swing by your nearby pet store, or take a walk around a local dog park. There are plenty of options.

Read With Them

Reading can be such an incredible way to explore fantasy worlds, ignite your imagination, and especially explore different kinds of relationships and connections. The stories that books, TV shows, and movies weave allow a unique opportunity to empathize with and connect deeply with characters that live in those mediums. Just think of how Harry Potter has touched millions around the world. Surrounded by beautiful universes and beloved characters, alone time on Valentine’s Day is far from lonely or boring.

Volunteer With Seniors

When you are in a school vacuum spending time with similar aged youth, it’s hard to imagine the lives of people in separate life stages. Volunteering with seniors in a retirement community can help give perspective and provide an opportunity to hear their life stories (they were young once too!). And they’re often in a lonely position, in which many of their friends, family, and partners have passed. Small gestures like sitting and talking with them, passing out flowers, or generally spending time can go a long way in fostering appreciation, warmth, and connection.

These are only a few suggestions to broaden your child’s horizons on what love is. There are numerous other ways to find connection in the world, as evidenced by this Lifehacker article. Whether you find it in a beloved pet, a riveting story and characters, or in small connections with individuals different to you, love is a meaningful experience that teaches us about ourselves and others. And at the end of the day, you’ll be spending quality time with your child. If that’s not love, I don’t know what is.

Helping Teenagers Overcome The Pressure of Sports

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5:30 am – wake up; 6:00 am – workout; 7:00 am – shower and breakfast; 8:00 am – school starts; 3:00 pm – school ends; 3:30 pm – after school practice; 6:00 pm – group project meeting; 7:00 pm – dinner at home; 8:00 pm – daily chores; 9:00 pm – homework and study; 12:00 am – sleep

The cycle repeats.

Teens carry a packed schedule as they try to balance sports and academics. They have little time for themselves between morning and evening practices, a full schedule of classes, and keeping up with their responsibilities at home. Regardless of physical exhaustion and the lack of sleep, teens continue to strive to meet the expectations of parents, peers, and coaches. The pressure to continuously perform can take a toll on a teenager’s mental health.

“Trying so hard just mentally stresses you too much. I think that’s what gets me. It tears me up.”

It can be both exciting and rewarding to watch your teen perform on the field. However, as a parent, you can’t help but feel helpless when you see your teen struggling to manage the pressure.

Here are some ways you can support your teen:

Relaxation Techniques:

Teenagers may experience increased stress during important games such as playoffs. Teens fear making a mistake that could cost the school their spot in the championship.

“It’s hard because you’re trying not to mess up. Like at any moment you mess up, everybody is watching.”

  • Relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, and guided imagery can be effective in calming stress before a big game.
  • Teens can use these techniques to stay in the present and have a focused mindset.
  • With regular practice, relaxation techniques can relieve stress in other areas of life.

Encourage a Balanced Life:

Competing at the varsity college level would be a dream come true for any teen athlete. Teens spend countless hours practicing and perfecting their athletic skills to reach this goal. However,  of the 8 million students currently participating in high school sports, only 6% will move on to compete at the NCAA college level. The odds of getting a sports scholarship are very low.

  • Talk to your teen and discuss whether it is really worth it to give up time with friends and family to pursue sports.
  • Sports don’t need to become your teen’s entire identity.
  • Encourage your teen to explore their interests in other areas (school clubs, volunteering, music, part-time jobs).

What to Avoid:

Often times, parents can live vicariously through their children. Parents may be putting added pressure on their teengagers without even realizing it.

“If you’re not starting, then you don’t go out this weekend.”  

  • Be sure to provide praise regardless of a win.
  • Refrain from overly praising your teen’s teammate or comparing your teen to a teammate.
  • Avoid disappointed facial expressions, tone, and body posture.
  • Resist the urge to shout instructions from the sidelines. Coaching is best left to the coach.

Original Source: VeryWell.com

School sports provide opportunities to form friendships, generate a sense of belonging, and improve confidence. For some, sports may relieve the stress of everyday life. For others, it only adds to the pressure of high school. It’s important to maintain open communication with your teen and discuss concerns regularly. As a parent, stay positive, provide encouragement, and unconditional support. If you sense that your teen is struggling to cope with stress, you can always reach out to school counselors for additional assistance.

If you or someone you know needs help:

For a database of international resources visit International Association for Suicide Prevention

Winter Blues: Warning Signs of Depression

blog-3-depression-01Wintertime is a season to snuggle up in blankets, drink warm cocoa, and stay cozy with family and friends in front of a warm hearth. Unfortunately, depression doesn’t follow a 9am-5pm schedule with a break for the holidays, and some of those very loved ones might be experiencing painful seasonal sadness.

Depression isn’t a made-up illness, and often impacts one’s emotional wellbeing and close relationships. In those situations, everyone is affected. Different types of depression, like major depressive disorder and seasonal depression, exist and influence how long or how severe the depression is. With all those variables, would you know if your child is depressed? Here are some common symptoms:

Emotional

  1. A persistently sad, numb, or hopeless mood towards life.
  2. General irritability or restlessness over minor issues; could even include outbursts of anger.
  3. Feeling worthless or guilty, with a fixation on past failures and blaming oneself.
  4. Visibly on edge and struggling to relax.

Social/Mental

  1. Diminished interest or pleasure in hobbies or activities, especially ones they used to love. Disinterest in or feeling burdened by social activities or engagement with others.
  2. Trouble concentrating, making decisions, or remembering things.

Physical

  1. Difficulties with sleeping, including insomnia or oversleeping.
  2. Decreased energy and general tiredness. Small tasks seem to take extra effort.
  3. Changes in appetite or weight that can include weight loss and lowered appetite, or overeating and weight gain.
  4. Persistent and/or unexplained physical problems like headaches, back pain, digestive problems, etc.

Original Source: DignityHealth.org

It’s important to note that not every depressed person will exhibit all of these signs. Some may even show only a few. It’s crucial to not only be aware of the warning signs, but assess the context of each individual’s situation before you decide an approach.

No one is born knowing how to deal with these situations, and it’s understandable to be flummoxed by the realization that someone you know might be experiencing painful thoughts. There are plenty of ways to approach and help, whether you see them at home or at school.

For answers to FAQ on the treatment and recognition of mental health disorders, click here.

If you or someone you know are experiencing pain or suicidal thoughts, there is always help:

What to Expect from Securly in 2018

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2017 was a year of immense growth for us. Securly now has 70+ employees across California, North Carolina, and India. Our Charlotte and India offices continue to expand, and we moved our HQ in Silicon Valley to a new office 3x the size of our old space.

Our main goal for 2017 was to innovate, innovate, and innovate. And as always, with the intention to secure ubiquitous child safety both at school and at home. In our path to achieving this goal, we pledge to create affordable, innovative products – so that schools and parents never have to compromise on student safety. We accomplished a lot this past year, and are excited to share our new products with you soon. 2018 here we come!

COMING SOON

Classroom

With this free feature, we let teachers become the IT admins of their own classroom. They can track assignments and whitelist/blacklist sites. Classroom works in conjunction with Google Classroom, helping teachers keep students on track to maximize the benefits of EdTech. Sign up for our priority list here.

24

We’re offering a 24/7 crisis support team because cyberbullying, depression, and self-harm are not bound by a 9-5 schedule. 24 automatically observes a student’s activity on the web, social media, and Youtube. When activity is flagged, a trained staff member will review the context in which it was used and the user’s history for insight into the bigger picture. Able to recognize the nuances of language and critically analyze a user’s history, a human can make determinations that technology may overlook. If flagged activities are cause for alarm, a 24 staff member will alert a counselor in real-time via text or, if necessary, a phone call.

Plug n’ Play

Parents can design an at-home Internet experience that is personalized for their children. Just connect the plug n’ play hub to your wifi router and rest assured your kids are browsing safely.  Parents can change the filter settings, block any inappropriate sites, set time limits, and receive optional e-mail reports and notifications. Parent wifi is not affected.

And in case you missed it, here’s a list of other features that make Securly the best web filter:

 

For more information about new product features, subscribe to our newsletter:


Classroom by Securly – helping teachers manage EdTech for free.

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Background

EdTech is booming. The industry has accumulated $887M in funding in the first half of this year already. Many schools continue to adopt a 1:1 environment, a program that offer students autonomy and access; yet many teachers and parents feel they lack the required structure to optimize success. Thus, the need for classroom management tools is becoming imperative. These tools allow teachers to know track student progress and productivity, allowing classroom interaction to continue into the virtual world.

However, classroom management assistance became commodified as soon as its need was realized. With all the costs schools incur, additional classroom tools tend to be a lower priority than online safety and security features which are required by law.

 

Our Solution

To ensure that schools never have to compromise, we are planning to release a free, classroom management tool at the start of 2018. Called Classroom by Securly, it will work in conjunction with Google Classroom, and allows teachers the ability to be the IT admins of their own classrooms. This will provide educators the ability to whitelist websites that are relevant to their class and block all others. Ultimately, this tool will help teachers keep students on track to maximize the benefits of EdTech.

“We want teachers to be able to walk into their classroom and know that kids can only access whitelisted content,” says Bharath Madhusudan, CTO and co-founder of Securly. “Giving teachers control over their classroom means kids have to focus on math, history, English, whatever. They can’t distract themselves, even if they want to.”

 

The first to receive Classroom by Securly will be those educators on a priority list. To sign up for the priority list, click here.

 

You Down With FTP? (Yeah, You Know Me!)

Put your books down, class. It’s time for a pop quiz. Who knows what FTP stands for?

Free Tibetan Puppies?

Flossing Tackles Periodontitis?

&%$@ The Pistons!

If you guessed ‘None of the above’ or even ‘Geez, that last one seems really negative and I highly recommend some anger management tools’ you’re correct!

IMG_20171025_121134_Bokeh.jpgSameer Waskar (red), Mahesh Digarse (light yellow), and Shreyas Moghe (dark yellow) work together to determine the appropriate emoticon for stoicism. Stop suggesting the eggplant, Sameer.

File Transfer Protocol (FTP) is commonly used for exchanging files over the Internet. FTP uses the Internet’s TCP/IP protocols to enable data transfer. It uses a client-server architecture, often secured with SSL/TLS.

The parent CSV come straight out of the Student Information System (SIS). Most SIS systems offer a FTP upload option out of the box. This allows EdTech tools that rely on data such as rostering and grade information to do what they do. Securly is now among the EdTech products supporting the SFTP option for direct SIS exports.

Securly uses SFTP (FTP over SSH), a connection that requires a user id and password to connect to the SFTP server. It’s important to note that any user ids and passwords supplied over the SFTP connection will be encrypted, which is a big advantage over standard FTP.

How is it useful:

  • Allows you to transfer multiple files as well as directories
  • The ability to resume a transfer if the connection is lost
  • The ability to add items to a “queue” to be uploaded/downloaded
  • Many FTP clients have the ability to schedule transfers
  • No size limitation on single transfers (browsers only allow up to 2 GB)
  • Many clients have scripting capabilities through command line
  • Most clients have a synchronizing utility
  • Faster transfers than HTTP

So, there you go! Useful information about FTP, more detail about why Securly uses SFTP, and more acronyms than you could possibly stomach in a single sitting.

 

Guard yourself against these 3 things

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October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month. Each week in October is dedicated to a different cyber security theme, and features appropriate resources to help all internet users protect themselves from threats online.

Both children and adults should be cautious of their interactions online, while also considering whom they are dealing with:

BOTS

Bots are useful tools and potentially constitute 60% of website traffic. However, they are oftentimes employed to conduct cybercriminal activity. They are a type of malware, allowing hackers to remotely take control over the infected computer.

Bots can be website scrapers and spammers, while extensive “botnets” (an army of infected computers) can take down a website in mere seconds called a Denial-of-Service Attack. Bots send viruses and are often used to steal personal information (credit card information, bank credentials, social security numbers), putting victims at risk of fraud.

STRANGERS

The digital age promised to bring the world closer – and indeed the younger generation seems to be reflecting the sentiment, sharing increasingly more personal information with strangers online. The study extrapolates that 1 in 5 people share sensitive data (including passport scans, bank information, and personal documents) online with others they do not know well.

Neglecting to install proper security measures or voluntarily sharing personal information introduces many risks, from Venmo scams and fraud to sexual predators.

PEERS

Incorporating people from your physical environment into your online social community may seem like a natural extension. However, a recent study by Robin Dunbar of Oxford Universityshows that most of your online friends are in fact not your “real friends”. In fact, cyberbullying is more likely to come from a teen’s peers than from internet trolls or strangers. There are cases where aggressive “strangers” were exposed as peers operating under fake accounts/names.

Online communication platforms are efficient, but “the lack of face-to-face interactions makes it difficult to invest in a relationship for maintaining an essential level of ‘emotional intensity.’” This lack of empathy and selective sharing on social media garners a feeling of detachment, which empowers cyberbullying. October is also National Bullying Prevention Month. Cyber Security can be integral in bullying prevention. Both campaigns intersect, working towards the same goal: safety.

To learn more about how we keep kids safe online, visit our website:

Learn more about our Built-In Cyberbullying Detection

How We Keep 1M Students Safe Daily

We introduced Auditor after learning from our schools that students were using Gmail to express negative emotions such as bullying and self-harm. We made it free so that no school would have to make compromises when it comes to student safety.

Today, Auditor is thriving – scanning 3.5 million emails per day for 1 million students across the world.

‘Within six months of its launch Auditor has scanned more than 100 million emails and saved so many lives – That’s the power of AI and best part is that it’s all free! This is something that each every school should have as kids lives are at stake.’

‘Securly has been having its filtering product around for quite sometime but our core mission has always been ubiquitous safety for kids. Auditor is one such product that is so core to our mission, we decided to give it for free. Since its launch six months ago it has helped save countless number of lives.’ – Neeraj Thakar, VP India R&D Operations

Auditor also ensures that schools are CIPA (Children’s Internet Protection Act) compliant. CIPA requires schools to maintain “the safety and security of minors when using electronic mail, chat rooms, and other forms of direct electronic communications”. However, traditional web-filters do not address this. Many schools reported using Google’s default compliance options to flag emails that contain a predefined set of keywords.

This method is undependable as:

  1. It Is prone to lots of False Positives (False Alarms) and False Negatives (Missed Alerts).
  2. Does not scale well in a large District where IT becomes the bottleneck in sorting through these flagged messages.

 

Instead, Auditor uses an automated sentiment inference approach. For example, consider a post that was flagged by our algorithm:

“slowly im realizing i don’t really have a purpose here say good bye cause Fryday it’s all over <3”

Though the allusion to suicide is clear, it does not contain the keywords usually associated with this kind of behavior. A keyword based approach would not have worked in detecting this.

 

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10 Reasons Why Securly is the Best Web Filter

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Between our unrivaled student safety features and dedicated team, here’s why schools and parents trust Securly to keep their kids safe online:

1. Free Chromebook Filtering

Set-up takes less than 5 minutes and it works seamlessly at home. In July, our Chromebook filtering became free for all schools everywhere. Since then, 700 districts (and counting) signed up and installed our self-serve Chromebook solution.

2. Free self-harm detection via Auditor

Our Auditor tool monitors Gmail for signs of self-harm and has kept over 1M students safer in its first 4 months. Our system uses Natural Language Processing & Artificial Intelligence algorithms to infer the sentiment behind e-mails. We notify parents and administrators in real-time at first sign of at-risk behavior.

3. Expanded Parent Settings

We upgraded our industry-first parent portal to give parents more control to set policies for school-owned devices at home. Parents can customize what your student can do and see on their devices, allow or deny access to specific sites and categories. This is one of our most popular features with parents.

4. Page Scanour blacklist that learns

PageScan is able to accurately block new content and meet the strict performance constraints of modern K-12 networks. Each day, PageScan adds 100s of sites to keep our database in tune with an ever-growing Internet. In fact, our blacklist recently upgraded to recognize images containing nudity, giving parents even less to worry about.

5. Azure AD

Can you ask for anything more than Google SSO and on-prem AD support? Now, you can. Azure AD support has been completed and deployed to many happy customers.

6. Product Stability

Despite our meteoric growth, support tickets are only on track to increase a mere 20%. Why? Because cloud-based filtering works and our product is more stable than ever.

7. Auto Scaling

Our DevOps infrastructure was upgraded to handle auto scaling. This means that as traffic fluctuates, servers turn on or go to sleep based on use  which mitigates chances of a server getting maxed out or even crashing. So, go ahead and throw all you can at us – we can handle it.

Advantages of cloud-based auto scaling:

  • Better fault tolerance: Auto scaling detects when an unhealthy instance, terminates it, and launches a replacement.
  • Improved availability: This ensures that our servers always have the capacity to handle the current traffic demands.
  • Blazing fast DNS resolution.
  • Automated load handling.
  • Highly scalable.
  • Higher service uptime.

 

8. Our Rockstar Team

The guy who works on our Squid proxy wrote the code for our SSL decryption engine over a weekend. Our recruiter hired 30 top-notch sales reps in just under one month. Industry veterans from Microsoft, Amazon, and Qualys are just a sample of the talent that Securly’s been attracting.

9. WiscNet

We secured our first state-wide contract when WiscNet (Wisconsin’s K-12  Research and Education Network) chose to partner with Securly. Along with other large district deals reaching over 2M students, Securly is on track to achieve triple digit sales growth 4 years in a row.

10. Breakneck Growth

Securly is bursting at the seams with 70+ employees across California, North Carolina, and India. Our Charlotte and India offices continue to expand and our HQ in Silicon Valley is having to move to an office 3x the size of our old space. It’s a great feeling.

 

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Announcing Securly 24 – It’s About Time!

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After much development and planning, Securly is proud to announce Securly 24 which…

Hold on, is this a rip-off of the TV show “24” starring Kiefer Sutherland that took viewers on time-sensitive adventures in a post-9/11 world for an impressive 8 seasons on Fox?

What? No, that’s not even close. We’re excited about Securly 24 because it brings back the one factor missing from technology-based solutions: the human factor. Securly 24 is important because there are times when urgency or context can be difficult for technology to determine, even an advanced artificial intelligence like ours. However, these determinations are absolutely necessary to distinguish active from passive warning signs. With Securly 24, trained professionals can discern what tech cannot.

Wait a sec, so Securly hired trained professional Kiefer Sutherland to work a 24-hour shift alongside a robot sidekick? Bro, that sounds awesome!

While we appreciate Mr. Sutherland and his body of work, he has absolutely no bearing whatsoever on Securly 24. The only thing that matters, and truly the primary motivation for rolling out 24, is making sure kids are safe…at all times.

Securly already monitors for such things as cyberbullying and self-harm across Filter and Auditor and administrators receive email alerts when such things are found. However, an email alert may not be seen until the next day. In some cases, that is already too late.

“The reality is that troublesome activities do happen, but not always between the hours of 9am and 5pm. Securly wants to minimize any chance of oversight by adding trained humans back into the equation,” says co-founder/CEO Vinay Mahadik.

Filter 24 automatically observes a student’s activity on the web, social media, and Youtube, while Auditor 24 scans Google emails. When an activity is flagged, a trained staff member will review the context in which it was used and, if necessary, the user’s history for insight into the bigger picture. Able to recognize the nuances of language and critically analyze a user’s history, a human can make determinations that technology may overlook. If flagged activities are cause for alarm, a Securly 24 staff member will alert a counselor in real-time via text or, if necessary, a phone call.

Sometimes the feeling of pain and isolation can be overwhelming at, say, 2AM on a Sunday. Fortunately, Securly is making sure that even when the rest of the world is asleep, the right folks are keeping an eye on the most vulnerable among us. Sometimes we just need a hero who is at the right place at the right time.

Hey, kinda like…

Yes, exactly like Kiefer Sutherland.

Interested? Join our priority list now! Click here.