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Technology being implemented into schools to prevent cyber bullying
Just as parents are grappling with how to keep their kids safe on social media, schools are increasingly confronting a controversial question: Should they do more to monitor students' online interactions off-campus to protect them from dangers such as bullying, drug use, violence and suicide?
This summer, the Glendale school district in suburban Los Angeles captured headlines with its decision to pay a tech firm $40,500 to monitor what middle and high school students post publicly on Facebook, Twitter and other social media.
The school district went with the firm Geo Listening after a pilot program with the company last spring helped a student who was talking on social media about "ending his life," company CEO Chris Frydrych told CNN's Michael Martinez in September.
"We were able to save a life," said Richard Sheehan, the Glendale superintendent, adding that two students in the school district had committed suicide the past two years.
"It's just another avenue to open up a dialogue with parents about safety," he said.
The Glendale school district is not alone. David Jones, president of the firm Safe Outlook Corporation, said two school districts and three schools pay, on average, between $4,000 to $9,000 per year for one of his technology products called CompuGuardian and that he expects the number of schools participating to go up. (Jones said he was not at liberty to reveal which schools work with his company.)
His product gives schools access to, among other things, reporting tools that allow users to search key words connected to cyberbullying and drug use, and to see whether students are researching topics about dangers such as school violence.
"You can identify a student, and you can jump into their activity logs and see exactly what they've typed, exactly where they've gone, exactly what they've done, and it gives you some history that you can go back to that child and use some disciplinary action," Jones said. "You can bring in the parent and say, 'Hey, look, this is what your child's doing. You need to talk to them about it.' "