According to a recent survey by the Cyberbullying Research Center in the US, four out five of the students said they had been targets of malicious comments online, while 70% said someone spread rumors about them online. What’s more is nearly two-thirds (64%) of the students who experienced cyberbullying said that it affects their ability to learn and feel safe at school.
Once upon a time, long before the rise of anonymized messaging applications like Sarahah and Yik Yak existed, the chances of being exposed to constant harassment on your mobile phone weren’t as high. Although these apps were designed with fun in mind, the dark side behind sending anonymous messages is an open invitation for malicious behavior across all levels of education— from elementary to collegiate.
How can service providers make students and teachers feel safer while surfing the web? Below is a list of three simple steps communications service providers (CSPs) and network managers can take to become cyber knights in shining armor and reduce the rise of cyberbullying.
Step 1: Build a moat
While educators have attempted to solve the cyberbullying epidemic, it seems as if the technological advances are unfortunately one step ahead. Even a third of the teachers themselves have fallen victims to social media abuse, according to one recent study.
To win this uphill battle, service providers need to think outside the box when it comes to helping educators everywhere increase online protection. While service providers typically supply high levels of connectivity through seamless fixed and mobile internet access, they should also be thinking about ways to build a moat between bullies and their victims, or more specifically to keep out abusive apps and web sites.
Step 2: Prove chivalry is still alive
Once service providers realize the unique position they’re in to help combat cyberbullying, the next step is selecting the right solution. With the right mindset, backed by a proper solution, network operators can prevent inappropriate material from spreading while analyzing the use of frequently abused messaging applications.
To help prove chivalry isn’t quite yet dead, establishing and implementing policies at the network level is important for blocking and limiting access in the first place. Similar to web parental controls, a network-based solution and approach can help educators determine which content is safe and appropriate for their users to access by using different content-filtering techniques. These best practices identify, classify, and control access in real-time to help streamline the entire process. In fact, different access levels can be set based on different individual user profiles, such as students and staff.
This scalable and multi-tenanted approach can help protect both large and small demographics, which can help both smaller private schools and larger public institutions. Whether they are delivered through an IT administration in an individual’s school LAN, by a central IT administration across an education district, or by the service provider itself across even wider areas, this solution is designed to protect the network at each level.
Step 3: Rescue the damsel in distress
Here comes the fun part— service providers can sit back and watch this approach work its magic, like what the educational network in one Asian ministry experienced after deploying this approach across schools nationwide. Universities in Japan, the UK and the US are also rescuing damsels in distress by applying traffic visibility, management and control to create the safest environment for students and teachers alike.
By following these three steps and providing security at the network level, network operators can be the knights in shining armor that deliver protection and assurance during a crucial time of need. In a world where constant access to social media, and online sharing of potentially harmful and racist content exists, service providers can help prevent students from seeing distorted images of themselves and others.