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Fighting Cyber Bullying

Updated: Jan 3, 2020

Written by: Megan McDowell

Cyberbullying is real, and we believe that it needs attention and focus to help educate others about the harmful results it can have on individuals.

SXSW Award for Fighting Cyberbullying

Adweek recently published an article entitled Anti-Cyberbullying Software Vies for SXSW Award which was written by Richard Horgan. In it Horgan talks about how each year SXSW (South by Southwest) celebrates new bands, films, and ideas. This year they will be looking at a wide array of apps and tech products as part of the 2017 Interactive Innovation Awards Finalists Showcase. 65 apps and tech products have been selected over 13 categories with five finalists in each selection. Among these include a baby monitor that provides a wide array of analytics. One of the finalists for “Innovation in Connecting People”, is a public-service tool called Reword which seeks to help aid in combating bullying, and cyberbullying in particular.

The tool was created by the advertising company Leo Burnett Melbourne in partnership with Headspace. The application was launched last March to coincide with Australia’s National Day of Action Against Bullying and Violence. The app is a much needed attempt to deal with an ever pervasive societal problem. Cyberbullying affects individuals around the globe, with 463,000 young people bullied online last year in Australia alone. They also were able to track that the tool decreased bullying behavior by 67% (Public Relations Institute of Australia Newsroom).

The tool Reword was created to try and change online behaviours and curb online bullying before it happens. The tool acts a spellchecker, striking out words or phrases that are identified as hurtful or mean, prompting the user to reword their message or post. Leo Burnett Melbourne’s account director said of the tool, “Combatting online bullying is something we feel passionately about as an agency, and we are thrilled to have been able to make a real difference in the Australian community and beyond. The worldwide media interest for Reword confirms for us the power of this idea.” The tool was first piloted in two schools before being launched with a integrated media and publicity campaign (Public Relations Institute of Australia Newsroom).

As young people interact with each other through YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and other such sites, there is always the opportunity for bullying. Tools like Reword are vital for reminding individuals to be careful with what they write, providing a sort of reminder that words can be hurtful. This combined with continual training and education as to how to be a smart digital steward will be vital for providing young people with the knowledge they need to stay safe, and be responsible.

The Saskatchewan Government’s Initiative to Understand Cyberbullying

We at Insightrix Communities know that bullying is a serious epidemic. We were hired by the Saskatchewan government to research bullying so that they could come up with a solid anti-bullying strategy. For the study Insightrix conducted in-person interviews coupled concurrently with Insightrix’s market research community software. 16 in-person consultations were run throughout the province, which drew a total of 400 participants to these consultations. At the same time that these in-person consultations were running, Insightrix created an online community which both the government and Insightrix promoted. This online community led to 600 Saskatchewan residents joining the online community. Both the in-person sessions and the online community had moderator posed questions which allowed the government and Insightrix to listen to residents and gather new insights regarding the topic.

Based on the discussions both in-person and online, Insightrix was able to compile a report detailing people’s thoughts and experiences regarding anti-bullying initiatives and strategies. The report showed that the online consultation was well-received by residents, and the dialogues conducted within the community were deep and thoughtful, providing insights that were unable to be gathered during the in-person sessions. The online community also allowed members from all over the province to participate creating a broader audience. The online community software allowed access to every single comment made, and allowed the government access to read, and monitor comments at any time. The online research community stayed open two weeks past the in-person consultations allowing the findings of the in-person sessions to be tested with the online community.

While cyber bullying continues to be a serious concern, technology such as Reword are great steps in combatting it, combined with increased awareness around the subject such as the steps taken by the Saskatchewan Government to understand it and create measures to fight against it. If you would like to read more about our anti-bullying research project please click here.

If you would like to know more about how online community software can help your company please contact us.

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