How would you like to get paid by the government to monitor what type of media children use most? One of the most popular businesses that are doing very well is the type of business that gets paid by the government to monitor the type of media used by specific groups of people. In this case, children and the media used by children, which mainly is social media. It’s about protecting the safety of middle and high school students posting social media messages while the students are on school grounds.
You don’t find many school students ages 13-18 writing letters to the editor of print magazines and newspapers or their political representatives these days. Instead, one suburban school district in Glendale, California is paying $40,500 to a private monitoring firm to monitor and report the social media activities of its 14,000 middle and high school students for a period of one year. This monitoring process also consists of taking a good look at what students are posting on Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites, reports a September 16, 2013 Headlines and Global News article, “Glendale District Paying $40500 to Monitor Students’ Social Media Activity.”
There are a lot of names put on the act of media monitoring such as cyber snoop nation. But you have to admit, it’s a fascinating business to be in. You cybersnoop on the social media for the purpose of gathering safety-related or alarming demographic information, that is looking at what type of social media culture people of different age groups access.
Critics might label the act of watching the watchers and posters as government stalking. But the primary reason for watching the watchers access social media is for making sure students stay safe. Social media is the Wild West out there. Nobody enjoys having hurtful messages posted about them. When it comes to kids, suicides have resulted and may be on the rise. When it comes to adults, it’s called defamation of character or abusive reviewing of someone’s business which causes the person to lose their income and perhaps become homeless. In the latest case, the snooping or monitoring is there for the sake of safety of kids posting social media from schools.
In California, as school opened a few weeks ago, the Glendale school district awarded the contract to the Hermosa Beach firm, Geo Listening company. The business monitors social network public postings on school campuses and provides needed information to those in a position to intervene or respond to the needs of students. See, “Geo Listening (GeoListening) on Twitter.” The company provides technology services to numerous school districts and has done so for the past decade.
Anti-bullying results and safety for kids on school campuses are the goals
Students are posting to social networks right from elementary, middle, and high-school campuses. Due to the pervasive use of mobile devices and social networks, the parents, staff and the school administrators responsible for these students must be more effective in processing this information, says the Geo Listening website.
Only a few days ago in the national newspapers, you read of suicide after suicide of young teens being cyberbullied online at various social media sites. Somebody has to listen to what is being posted on social media. The Global Listening website notes that every day, there are posts about vandalism, crime, drugs, and all types of bullying from children who hope someone is listening.
Overwhelming volume of social media posted by students and others from school campuses
The volume of these posts is so overwhelming that it would be nearly impossible for schools – on their own- to efficiently filter through and take effective action. Geo Listening is an always monitoring service of all public posts on social networks that originate from your school campuses.
Geo Listening’s unique monitoring service processes, analyzes, and reports the adverse social media from publicly available student posts. The service provides a daily report in alignment with existing school district procedures and board policy related to student conduct and safety. The daily district report takes into account frequency and severity of a student’s posts in alignment with the following categories: bullying, cyber bullying, despair, hate, harm, crime, vandalism, substance abuse, and truancy.
Listening to children’s postings with an eye open to alarming photos or messages
Geo Listening provides those looking out for the safety of kids age 13 or older on school grounds/campuses with timely and definitive information related to students and the community that those in education serve. The company’s goal is to help those working in education such as teachers, principals, counselors, and others working on campus keep the students on school grounds focused on education and on the path to success in a safe and supportive environment. By providing critical information as early as possible in the ‘Pathway,’ the skilled staff on school campuses are able to disrupt negative pathways and make any intervention, such as an anti-bullying program, more effective.
Pilot project successful last year
The school district had already paid the firm $5,000 last spring to begin a pilot project that would monitor 9,000 students from three high schools and one middle school. Among the favorable results was the successful intervention with a suicidal student who was talking about ending his own life on his social media account, according to the September 16, 2013 news article, “”Glendale District Paying $40500 to Monitor Students’ Social Media Activity.” Students send photos of everything from their bodies to pictures of toy guns that look too real. There are dangers in posting images with weapons.
Parents worry about the rising number of suicides linked to social media cyberbullying-type of postings. And many children in the middle and high-school age groups gravitate to some of the more underground type of social media sites that frequently change from week to week. Some of these sites have numerous hateful messages on them. You see kids talking about how as soon as their grandparents get on one social media site to post messages to them, the youngsters gravitate to another site where parents and grandparents aren’t posting because they don’t know the names of all the different social media sites. Most parents may know about the more commonly mentioned social media sites that have posters of all ages talking about their families, careers, travels, educational interests, research, health topics, or retirement activities and hobbies.
The teenage brain isn’t fully developed yet when it comes to empathy and compassion for another student’s feelings or reputation
One of the reasons why kids post hateful messages that bully other students is that the part of their teenage brains that deal with compassion and empathy are not fully matured until after age 25 when they can better walk a mile in another person’s shoes, that is understand how the other person feels in order to think before posting or speaking a hurtful message that will be remembered for a lifetime.
Some students come from families where they have been made to feel they’re not good enough. Cyber bullies can single out the student with fewer networks to use to gain feelings of adequacy. Someone also may feel he or she is not worthy of or deserves better treatment due to family dynamics. For example, a child raised in a home where one parent frequently belittles another. A cyber bully will be putting someone down to lift himself/herself up. And sometimes the bully latches on to the child who feels too depressed to laugh off the cyber bully (or have an attorney sue the bully for defamation in social media). That’s where the social media monitors can step in to protect safety, at least on school campuses, if the postings originate from school areas.
California reduced its services on mental health in schools
If you’ve noticed, in many California schools, numerous psychologists, nurses, and counselors have been let go, work only part time, or have been assigned back to teaching if they’re credentialed in other subject areas, all due to budget cuts. There are fewer employees on school grounds available for intervention when it comes to cyber media posted from school ground locations. In the present case, the company scrutinizes postings of students that are at least 13 years old who post from school grounds.
A daily report is sent to the principal of the school on students who post social media that raise red flags. That means postings that look alarming at least on first glance. For more information, check out the CNN article, “California school district hires firm to monitor students’ social media.” Or see, “School district monitors kids’ social media.” You may wish to check out the Los Angeles Times article, “Glendale district says social media monitoring is for student safety.”