How to Balance Trust and Safety in Digital Monitoring

parents, online, content, trust, safety, teens

Malware, spyware, online predators, phishing, etc. – your child faces these threats each time they log in to their device. The internet can be a devious place, with questionable content tucked into its darker corners.  As parents, you are inclined to install every safety measure possible to protect your children from harm.

Sure, these precautions are imperative for younger, elementary school-aged children. However, as kids become teens – chances are they won’t want you tracking their movements, monitoring their online activity, and/or filtering their content. To them, it is a breach of their privacy and a lack of trust. Perhaps this sentiment is merely a front for content they are trying to hide, but let’s not start off too skeptical. Psychologist Michael Rubino has worked with teens and families for 20 years; he says teenagers often ask, “If they want me to be responsible, how can I be responsible if they do not give me a chance?”

This in turn often leaves parents with the question: How do I walk the line between trusting and monitoring my teen?

It is possible.


In most cases, parents buy their child’s device (smartphone, laptop, etc.) and parents pay for the data service. Thus, it is important to remind your kid that their screentime is a privilege and thus can be taken away. Although this seems rather authoritarian, it is a point often taken for granted.

On a lighter note, the following includes more collaborative practices for establishing trust, while maintaining your child’s safety:

1. Transparency

“Spying” is masked with an incredibly negative connotation that lies in deception and secrecy. Tracking all of your child’s online activity without their knowledge already diminishes the chance of parent-child relationship built on trust.

It is best to tell your child of the x,y, z security measures you have installed to avoid feelings of betrayal, and later retaliation. By being frank with your child, you are establishing an openness intended to be respected/reciprocated. It sends the message: “Hey, I think these security measures are necessary. I can see what you’re doing. I’m giving you the responsibility to make decisions, and I’m holding you accountable for them.”

2. Compromise

48% of parents have read through their teen’s messages, and 61% monitor their browser history. However, this does not encourage an atmosphere of trust. A recent NYT article Should You Spy on Your Kids? claims: “A parent who constantly micromanages a teenager’s life — Why did you stop here? Why did you go there? — risks stifling the independence needed to develop into an adult.”

Please, do allow your child more freedom as they move through elementary school and onto middle and high school – but this does not mean you have to relinquish all responsibilities as the protectorate. Oscar Wilde once said, “With age come wisdom, but sometimes age comes alone.” Although a bleak statement, this lends to the more moderate notion: although the transition from child to young adult marks a large jump in maturity, there is still a lot to be learned.

To foster a relationship built on mutual trust, discuss trade-offs. This can be as simple as being “friends” on Facebook or keeping Location Services on, but no reading through messages. When approached correctly, these tools should need not feel intrusive.

3. Talk Boundaries   

First and foremost, teach your children how to properly use technology as with great power, comes great responsibility. Impart digital literacy and digital citizenship practices and make clear what sites should and should not be accessed. Set ground rules and discuss expectations with your young adult as soon as possible: this includes individual screen time limits as well as restrictions on interacting with others on online platforms. In doing their part, parents should also be aware of the current technological climate.

On the other hand, if your teen is sharing a part of their world with you (being friends/sharing updates on social media) show the same respect by being courteous and following online etiquette: do not comment on every post, do not like every photo, etc. Check out this guide “How Parents Should Approach Their Teens on Social Media” for helpful tips to navigating this fairly new type of relationship.

4. Data Usage/Limits

Relative to the other practices, this is quite simple. Parents can set the data plan through their wireless provider to limit their teen’s browsing and app usage. This includes specifications like (1) app access only through Wi-Fi or (2) blocking texts, calls, and browsing during a designated time. These simple implementations limit access to online content (and also saves money), while still giving teens the freedom they crave.

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The Key to A Successful Online Safety Policy

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70.3% of students we surveyed did not know what web filter their school was using, if at all.  ALL of the students we interviewed were unaware as to what sites were prohibited on their school’s network.  Teachers themselves are often surprised and irritated by blocks to YouTube clips planned for class lecture.  Both teachers and students feel that they waste time trying to navigate their school’s web filter.  The solution is simple:  greater transparency.

Transparency may seem counterintuitive; isn’t the whole point of web filtering to screen content?  Well, teaching the school community about their web filtering system will optimize internet safety features and help students/teachers maximize web resources.  Students seek knowledge of the categories of websites that are blocked, which they feel would preempt incidents of being surprised upon being served a blocked page.  In fact, majority of students understand the rationale and support the concept behind web filters and safety measures that schools have put into place.   

By the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA), schools are required to 1) employ technology protection measures and 2) educate students on appropriate online behavior.  The latter should:

In addition, IT Admins should notify teachers of protocol for whitelisting sites.  Each process is different depending on the specific web filter.  Most school web filters require approval from the IT Admin, others allow teachers to temporarily whitelist a website using Google Apps for Education.    

This simple tip should help schools safely integrate technology into the classroom!  For more information on creating a CIPA-compliant Internet Safety Policy, check this out!


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8 Reasons Students Like Securly Web Filtering

cloud based web filtering, edtech, parental controls, school web filter, cyberbullying, web filter

The following are real student responses from an international survey we conducted during Summer 2015.

1. “You don’t get rude ads or viruses.”

Pop-ups and pseudo-content are not only annoying, but also often times dangerous.  Online aggressors specifically target children, enticing them to click on attractive advertisements or links leading to viruses.  YouTube launched “YouTube Kids” in response to this problem as an addition to their existing safety setting, YouTube Restrictive Mode.  But what about the rest of the internet?  Web filtering helps keep students safe online and protects from “intrusive viruses, malware, and ransomware”.

2. “It keeps us safe from other people that we don’t know.”

Students are protected from dicey websites and chat forums notorious for online predators.  This, combined with social media privacy settings – such as regulating who can comment on a post/video– reduces the risk of your child encountering internet users with malicious intent.

See the Parental Control Quick Guide for more information on keeping youth safe online.

3. “It protects people from cyberbullying.”

Web filtering can block social media sites where cyberbullying frequently occurs, but in today’s tech-integrated environment these sites are important for school-wide communication; and thus, counterproductive to restrict.  Securly includes a Bullying and Self Harm Detection feature with sentiment analysis that alerts parents and admins of possible cyberbullying/indications of harmful behavior.

4. “A big thing I agree with is stopping us from getting sidetracked…it can be hard in class when we are on the internet to not get distracted.”

Admins can set time limits on specific sites to help keep students on track and productive; in fact, over 50% of students admitted to being sidetracked while working on school assignments whether on or offline.  Another student remarked, “Web filtering is good because if things weren’t filtered, personally I wouldn’t have done as well in school.  I would be more interested in talking to my friends over social media while they were in different classes.”  

5. “It’s extremely useful to monitor and prevent younger kids from seeing all that the internet has to offer.”

Web filtering first and foremost protects children from violence, porn, and other unsavory content.  Students (especially with younger siblings) agree that this is a necessary and useful tool in preventing premature exposure.  Securly’s powerful web filtering technology filters out unsuitable material and language, and even goes as far as disabling YouTube comments on a child’s account.

6. “It provides an environment to practice hacking and getting around the rules.”

Definitely a different perspective, but still a valid point!  Apparently, persistent students are learning about the technology behind the filter… looks like web filtering is also creating future developers.  

7. “It provides safety throughout the whole school for everyone.  And as well as making us children feel safe whilst using the internet, it also helps parents to know their child is safe whilst browsing.”

Securly offers an interactive comprehensive report which complies top accessed categories, websites, and key search phrases by kids.  Admins are able to see how students are using devices at home versus in school.  It’s quite simple for admins to make changes to the filter settings on the user dashboard.

In addition, Securly’s cloud-based web filtering also extends to the home.  Schools with 1:1 programs are able protect their students anywhere.

8. “It stops anything that may be dangerous from happening.”

Some students have such faith in the power of web filtering!  Learn more about Securly web filtering features here.


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What Students Are Actually Doing Online

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Curious as to how children are spending their time online?  So are we.  We surveyed 400+ students to find out just how kids ages 9-18 are using their display devices.

On average, students spend about 5-10 hours per day on their device(s) (smartphone, iPad, laptop, etc).  This of course varies by age group: we found that younger teens (aged 13-15) spend the most time in front of their screens in comparison to other age groups.  Children typically receive their first cell phone around age 12, which explains this heightened usage distribution.

Students from around the world reported using their devices for the following activities (time allocation in descending order): Social Media, Schoolwork, Entertainment, Gaming.

 

1. SOCIAL MEDIA

Facebook is the most visited social media network, used even by children younger than the age restriction.  Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr also have a large following of adolescent subscribers.  These sites are intended to be a harmless way to connect with peers.  However, 1/3 of our survey participants experienced cyberbullying and 43% of students have been harassed online according to a recent DoSomething.org nationwide study.  

Common Sense Media outlines the top social media websites/apps of 2016 and what to be aware of for online safety purposes.

2. SCHOOLWORK

As technology becomes fully integrated into the classroom and 1:1 programs are on the rise, students have reason to spend even more time online.  Students use search engines and databases for research projects, and sites like Khan Academy for video walkthroughs of educational material.

However, 53.6% of students admitted to being sidetracked half of the time while working on school assignments –distributing this “procrastination time” among the other three activities.

 

3. ENTERTAINMENT

Kids are especially adept at surfing YouTube.  Five minutes spent browsing the site can easily turn into a few hours.  The related search algorithm automatically delivers a multitude of videos for the user, based on their search history.  YouTube offers tutorials, funny videos, music, and really anything you can think of.  According to  “What Kids Are Really Watching on YouTube”,  children are spending most of their time watching gaming tutorials, fashion/make up bloggers, Minecraft, and “challenge videos” (i.e. the “Cinnamon Challenge”, in which YouTubers try to eat an entire spoonful of cinnamon at one time).

TV/movie streaming sites such as Netlifx, Hulu, and Amazon Prime are also popular among youth.  Instant access to entire TV series listings allows kids to finish an entire season in one sitting, called “binge watching”.

 

4. GAMING

Lastly, children –especially younger audiences– tend to use their devices for online gaming.  Top game sites include Nick.com, PBS Kids, CoolMathGames, and GirlsGoGames.  Among older users, free-to-play multiplayer online battle games like “League of Legends” are common.

 

Many of these sites do include safety features (including safe search, restricted mode, YouTube Restricted Mode, etc.) and parental controls.  See the Parental Control Quick Guide for tips on how to enable these built-in functions.

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Parental Control Quick Guide: Keeping Your Kids Safe Online

Parental Control, online safety, child internet safety

The web holds a wealth of information – including content that may be inappropriate or dangerous for young audiences.  A request for personal details, cheap ticket offers to a sporting event, or suggestion to meet “in person” ? STOP!  These are all red flags of online culture to watch out for.  Kids are likely to run into online harassment, even from people they know, without proper cyber safety practices.  Thankfully, many websites have parental control features.  In honor of Safer Internet Day (February 9, 2016), here are some quick internet safety tips to keep children from harm’s way:

Google SafeSearch

Google is perhaps the most widely used resource for finding information.  Within “Settings”, you can enable restrictions that act as a safe search option for kids.  SafeSearch is available for computers, phone browsers, tablets, and Android apps.  It blocks sexually explicit video and images.  You can also lock SafeSearch to prevent others from changing the setting.

Google states that “The SafeSearch filter isn’t 100% accurate, but it helps you avoid most violent and adult content”.  For safer image results, try enabling both SafeSearch and the Creative Commons feature.  If you’re looking for safe browsing sites, especially for younger children, check out these safe, kid-friendly alternative sites to Google, YouTube, and beyond.

Google SafeSearch, safe search

child internet safety, safesearch

YouTube Safety Mode

YouTube Safety Mode works much like Google SafeSearch, through community flagging and age-restrictions.  It is also compatible with multiple platforms, but must be setup on each specific browsing profile.  For a small monthly fee, some web filters and parental controls may offer the ability to enforce safe YouTube across all devices in the household.

To ensure a safe Youtube environment, you can supplement safety mode by adjusting privacy settings and ‘flagging’ videos.

 

Social Media Safety

While Facebook and big name social media sites do not specifically include parental controls, adjust your child’s privacy settings to protect from predators, scams, and cyberbullying.  

  1. Make sure that only Friends can see any and all information
  2. Do not allow search engines outside of Facebook to link to profile
  3. Only allow Friends of Friends to send friend requests
  4. **For optimal security, limit people from seeing your Friends list
  5. Be “friends” with your child online to monitor their activity

**People can easily narrow down age, hometown, school, interests & hobbies from analyzing trends in associated profiles.  You can limit who can see posts and personal information within your social media circle, but it is best to forgo listing any personal information whatsoever.

Privacy settings are also available on Twitter and Instagram,  though tweets and images are still viewable (if linked in an article or another post) even if the profile itself is private.

safe social media

For Everything Else.. There’s Web Filtering

Windows 7 includes Parental Controls that allow parents to set time limits on computer use, limit and filter games, and block specific programs.  However, if the computer is connected to a domain, these features are not available.  Even Microsoft help pages suggest supplementary parental controls.  

Consider web filtering!  Traditionally, internet filtering programs have been most utilized by school systems – but the advent of new cloud technology allows for web filtering anywhere, and even in the home.  Web filtering offers complete online security – it allows for parental monitoring (see how kids are allocating their online time, what sites they visit, and who they interact with), restrictions on explicit content, and easy configuration on multiple devices.  

 

 

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Safe, Kid-Friendly Alternatives to Google, YouTube, and Beyond

parental controls, safe social media websites for kids, safe video websites for kids, safe search websites for kids, safe gaming websites for kids, online child internet safety

Today’s youth is exposed to technology very early in life – according to 2015 American Academy of Pediatrics, ”30% of U.S. children first play with a mobile device when they are still in diapers”.  Relative to toddlers, children aged 8 are more capable and conscientious of their actions.  However, they are barely halfway through elementary school!  Yet in a recent study, parents started to allow unsupervised internet time when their child was 8 years old.

Big name sites such as Google and Facebook have created safe search options in order to protect young kids from inappropriate content on the web, e.g., Google SafeSearch and Youtube Safety Mode.  However, with high upload volumes every day, it’s almost impossible to filter out all the “bad stuff”.

Parents can’t constantly look over their child’s shoulder and watch for unsuitable results that may pop up.  Luckily, developers know that.  Here are some safe, kid-friendly alternatives for the top internet activities. These sites contain only pre-filtered content, so parents can rest easy while their child uses the web.

Search Engines

Search engines host a wealth of information, spanning from every topic imaginable.  A lot of this content is particularly unsavory for young children.  It’s easy to stumble upon adult content, especially with slang perpetuated by web-culture today – feel free to type in “jugs” (porcelain and ceramic, right?) into Google with SafeSearch enabled and see what comes up.

Instead, set websites like kidrex.org or googlejunior.com as your browser homepage.  You don’t need to “enable” anything on these sites, all the safety measures are ready to go.  Kidrex is aimed toward a younger elementary school audience while Google Junior is perfect for kids entering their tween years.  Google Junior even provides a word and quote of the day.  See what happens when the word “porn” is searched:  

 

Kidrex blocks everything even remotely related, while Google Junior provides relevant, non-explicit results surrounding porn in a different context –current events, news, even web filtering shows up!  

Video Streaming

Youtube Safety Mode blocks obviously explicit video content, but it’s by no means infallible.  They even say this themselves: “Restricted Mode hides videos that may contain inappropriate content flagged by users and other signals. No filter is 100% accurate, but it should help you avoid most inappropriate content”.  Many suggestive videos escape the filtering criteria, and the comments posted underneath each video can be extremely profane.  

Start your kids on Kideos, a site that contains a myriad of trendy, kid-friendly entertainment.  It includes a variety of popular TV shows from channels including, but not limited to Disney, Nickelodean, PBS Kids.  It does not allow comment posting.  They also offer an app compatible with most smartphone platforms.

It even allows parents to set limits on videos based on age group or choose how long their child can watch videos, after passing a “parent security question”.

parental controls, youtube safety mode, kideos, safe youtube

Social Media

45% of kids aged 8-11 use social media.  Sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram offer a great way to connect with peers, stay in touch, find a community, and keep updated on current events.  However, these sites are also filled with online predators and scams that target young, uninformed users.  They also have the highest occurrence of cyberbullying, Facebook topping the chart as #1.

To avoid these risks and foster a safe, fun online community for younger children and pre-teens, various companies have created social network sites with “training wheels”.  These range from ad-less interfaces, features that connect a parent account to the child’s account, or manual review of uploaded photos by on-hand company staff.  Some sites are even centered around themes – Franktown Rocks is a site devoted to safe social networking surrounding sharing and making music.  BBC recently compiled a list with the top safe, social media sites for kids aged 7-13.

School Research

When tackling a research project, students tend to immediately turn to Google.  This is a great resource for gathering ideas, but the quality of results are varied.  Students may have to comb through a large amount of unaccredited sources and irrelevent search results before finding something they will be able to cite.

Many schools actually purchase subscriptions to online databases for students to use; these are heavily underutilized.  Common names are Cengage Learning or EBSCOhost .  They serve as virtual, portable libraries.  After students indicate the subject area they are interested in, these databases supply relevant content from scholarly article, ebooks, and encyclopedia entries.  All students need is their school access code – which is usually posted on their school’s homepage or around the school libraries.
Say your child had a research project about guns.  See the contrast between Google SafeSearch and a database with the single keyword “guns”:

>> Google safe search first provides near by places to access guns.

safesearch, child internet safety, safe image search

>> Then supplies more information about buying guns with a mention there at the bottom concerning guns in current events.

safesearch, child internet safety, safe image search

>> However, the database lists books about the history and culture of guns, the controversy over gun rights, and even the theory behind electron guns.  Much more relevant to a research project.

research database, child internet safety, school filter

Gaming

Last, but not least, gaming!  Kids spend most of their time on the internet playing games.   Yet, these sites are often riddled with scams, predators, and violent-themed content.  This list provides a wide variety of alternative sites which are as fun as they are educational.  Trusted sites include PBS Kids and Brain Pop!. There are safe sites devoted to a range of interests from arts to sports!   

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5 Reasons Why K-12 Schools Are Abandoning Web Filtering Appliances

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Until recently, K-12 web filtering has been dominated by hardware solutions.

Prior to the enactment of the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) nearly 15 years ago, schools had little need or opportunity to change a system that was considered to be acceptable and the norm.

However, given the shift towards cloud computing in the last few years, schools are finding more reason to abandon traditional web filtering options in favor of other, hardware-free solutions.

Here are the five reasons why appliance-based web filtering is dying in K-12:

1) They don’t have school-focused features

Yes, general enterprise solutions are built with plenty of add-ons that are intended to increase security – yet these services don’t address school-specific issues like classroom management, safe social media, and cyberbullying.

Some filtering solutions cast a blanket ban over video streaming sites like YouTube, which can be a very helpful educational resource. In an effort to protect students from the unsavory side of the site, they block all content instead of building upon features like YouTube Safety Mode or YouTube for Schools in order to create a safe YouTube.

2) They’re too expensive

These add-ons add up. Even though schools don’t need the extra features that enterprise solutions provide, they are required to pay the price.

A 2014 article by KQED showed that school web filters can cost as much as $40 per student. Large corporations are able to pay these fees, but schools often cannot.

Moreover, with hardware solutions, schools must pay for the web filtering box in addition to annual per user license costs. As their 1:1 take home programs scale, schools may need to purchase additional boxes to support their program’s expansion, as one appliance often can only support a few hundred devices at a time.

3) They’re not designed to filter students at home

One big distinction between businesses and schools is that the former has no interest or requirement to enforce off-site web filtering.

On the other hand, schools are increasingly adopting 1:1 take-home programs, an arrangement in which each student takes a school-provisioned device home to use for school assignments. Naturally, a big concern for schools is being able to manage what students are doing on the device when they are away from school.

This is an area in which appliance web filters once again come up short. When the 1:1 device is at home with the student, all traffic needs to be routed from the student’s home to the the appliance on school grounds and then back out to the Internet. This imposes limits on at-home browsing speeds, as the device is often limited by the school’s bandwidth uplink.

4) They require nontrivial setup and maintenance

So a school has decided to buy the service. Then what? With an appliance-centered web filtering approach, IT admins have to wait for the box to be shipped (days later) and then start the set-up process (days later).

These admins are also responsible for network uptime even outside of school hours. For instance, if the web filtering appliance is impacted by a storm, the admin needs to make an on-site visit to get everything back up and running, if they even can.

5) There are alternative solutions!

With the advent of solutions like safe web browsers, Chrome extensions (for devices running Chrome OS and/or the Chrome browser), and cloud-based web filtering, schools now have the freedom to depart from traditional appliance-based solutions.

Typically used for iPads, schools can enforce the use of safe web browsers so that students can only access a subset of pre-approved content on the Internet.

For schools using Google Apps for Education (GAfE), IT Admins have the ability to manage devices and push out Chrome extensions from a central console.

Cloud-based web filtering allows schools to enjoy the granularity of an appliance while getting set up in minutes and managing all students’ devices and reporting in the cloud.

To learn more about cloud-based web filtering for schools, you can subscribe to our blog (above) or to our newsletter (below).


Bullying and Self-Harm Detection

Sample Flagged Posts

A big reason school IT Admins are drawn to Securly is our industry-first “Bullying and Self-Harm Detection”. This technology promises to keep students safe on social media by analyzing their posts and alerting school officials of incidents such as cyber-bullying, self-harm, and grief. In theory it sounds quite powerful, but how does our technology work, and more importantly, just how accurate is it?

We’ve come a long way since our successfully funded Kickstarter Project, in which we raised over $50,000 to aid in the research and development to perfect our technology. What makes our offering different from competing solutions can be summed up in a simple phrase: “sentiment analysis”. This means exactly what you are probably thinking. Instead of flagging on certain keywords in isolation, which tends to produce a high rate of false positives, our algorithms interpret the underlying emotion or sentiment behind the post and at that point decide whether or not it warrants being flagged. You can also read our original blog post to get a better understanding of the technical details.

Now on to the million dollar question – does it really work? If you were to ask us this same question a few months ago, we would have said yes, but with a small caveat – training our engine to become more sophisticated and reduce false positives is something that takes a substantial amount of time and effort. We’ve been fortunate enough to have two Securly team members working full-time on feeding our machine tens of thousands of social posts and rooting out false positives.

To best illustrate how far we’ve come, we’ll look at a before-and-after comparison. Below are some posts that we would have flagged in the early days of our technology. Notice that despite the excessive foul language, most of these posts are fairly harmless in their intent.

  • “you the f***ing best”
  • “eenie meenie miney mo you are nothing but a dirty h**. you think youre cute”
  • “this s*** is stupid”
  • “f*** you.”
  • “i hate you so much”
  • “sn sucks d****”
  • “you f***ing hurt me
  • “got 99 problems and a b**** aint one”
  • “b**** keeps staring… better knock her shit off…”
  • “i think you should shut the f**** up !”
  • “@username pero theyre f***ing stupid clues”

Now let’s take a look at our flagged posts after the most recent update. You’ll see that the results are quite different now. Most, if not all, of these posts would warrant an alert to the IT Admin to take further action. If you’re looking at  some of these posts and thinking, “wow, there’s no one word in there that would set off a red flag”, then you truly understand and appreciate the power of what our engineers have developed.

BULLYING

  • “@username @username1 @username2 do y’all just pick on me bc im short? bc i can recall a good 2 times both of yall have tried to beat me up”
  • “@username boy! i will punch you in the throat”
  • “@username b**** i aint tryna say nothing. i didnt get farted on like some people…”
  • “@username stfu [name]”
  • “@username but you da h** im talking about”
  • “@username u so mean to me”
  • “you are a sl**”
  • “go kill yourself”

GRIEF

  • “since i have no friends to get high with.. guess i’m smoking alone tonight :)”
  • “my mom has literally taken every f***ing thing that makes me happy and she wants me to like be hella cool to her. she rude as f***.”
  • “hey guy sorry if i dont talk at all because my friend committed suicide”
  • “have you ever felt like no one wants you in this world :(“
  • “you’re really blessed if you have never had a physical addiction before. not to a person but to a substance. withdrawals will break you.”
  • “do you ever get so heated that you feel like ripping off someones head and yanking their eyes out and stapling them on their knees? orrr..”
  • “i’m ready to f***ing shoot myself”
  • “i sit in the front of the class now and there is so much f***ing porn on my dashboard i hate my life”
  • “my mom over here talking about god is going to punish me for cutting”
  • “depression really sucks especially when you have no support. :(“

Why is this important? With so much reliance on device use in school and at home, students are increasingly turning to social media as an outlet to express themselves. If we think about almost all recent examples of extreme tragedy, the perpetrator has shown signs of troubling behavior, usually presenting itself through social media. And as we can imagine, there are potentially millions of student posts in schools across the globe that need attention but are otherwise going unnoticed. For us, we feel this is the aspect of the product that makes Securly truly secure. We were founded with the mission of protecting kids in all facets of their online life and continuing to improve our Bullying and Self-Harm Detection technology brings us closer to that goal.

Schools using Securly’s services have already noticed the powerful impact this technology can have on students’ well-being. Says Mark Nelson from Romeo Community Schools, “[We’ve] been very impressed with the language sentiment analysis (unavailable from other K-12 service providers); in fact, we used it just last week to inform a parent of an alarming post on Facebook by one of our students. Just one avoidance of a young person harming themselves or others would be worth a thousand times the subscription price.”

Our next roadmap items include: 1) Introducing this feature for users of iPads and our DNS service, and 2) Sending SMS texts to IT admins and parents with high-confidence alerts that warrant intervention. Have other ideas about what would make this offering even better? Please reply to this post and let us know.