Stand4Kind Partners with Kidas to Address Teen Bullying and Suicide
By Jenny Rollins
Stand4Kind, a Draper, Utah nonprofit that works with schools and small businesses to reduce suicide and bullying among students, has partnered with Kidas, a tech company based in Philadelphia offering software that protects kids from cyberbullying and harassment.
Pam Hayes, Founder of Stand4Kind, says that Utah parents frequently reach out to Stand4Kind asking how they can protect their kids online, especially with gaming.
Hayes recently asked 100 students, 13 to 18 years old, how many of them had people online ask them for personal information, such as address, school, or age. All of them said yes. She then asked them how many reported these requests to their parents. Not a single student said yes.
Some of the students just ignored the requests, but others said they felt like they could trust the people asking the questions because they played video games online with them every day.
“They don't know if it's an 80-year-old guy in New York, or if it's the 14-year-old girl next door,” said Hayes. A lot of parents are in denial assuming their child would tell them if they are getting personal requests for information. “Well, if they're in a game, and they're playing with this person every day. It's easy to forget,” said Hayes.
According to Ron Kerbs, Founder and CEO of Kidas, approximately 60% of kids in the US will suffer from some kind of harassment and loss of personal information online before they turn 18.
“You would be surprised about how much information is shared. It's not just phone numbers and addresses that they share with people that they don't know,” Kerbs said. “It's credit card numbers and social security numbers being shared.”
Stand4Kind and Kidas are working together to train parents, kids and teachers to prevent and handle personal information breaches and cyberbullying that happens during online gaming.
Stand4Kind is a state-approved 501c3 that operates in every school district in Utah, according to Hayes. The organization receives state funding, as well as donations from individuals.
“We'll match those funds just to make sure all schools have all the programs and training they need,” said Hayes. “Every year, based on our funding, we help 400,000 students. As funding comes in, we're able to help more.”
Stand4Kind has assemblies, trainings, educational video series, parent nights and other resources. The Stand4Kind app links to 988 and Safe UT. It also offers online resources for parents about bullying. It also has courses for students and parents.
“We want to make sure parents and students have the tools and know where to go and how to protect themselves as much as possible,” Hayes said.
Kidas is an app to monitor and protect gaming devices in home. It supports over 400 games and sends alerts to parents about any private information shared or any detected cyberbullying.
Although gaming and esports can be a great way to develop social skills and coordination and even potentially get scholarships, there can be some toxic aspects of gaming culture, Kerbs explained. And chats, where a lot of these damaging interactions are taking place, aren’t typically included in parental controls.
Kidas alerts fall into four categories:
- Red: The most urgent alert that goes to email and text about things like the sharing of credit card info or predatory online behavior
- Orange: An urgent alert about things that don’t need an immediate response, like bullying, hate speech, whether the child is the victim or the aggressor
- Yellow: A non-urgent alert about trends that might be concerning, like increased game time
- Green: A non-urgent status that shows there are no alerts or concerns
“In the end, nothing is as effective as getting immediate feedback when you actually play,” Kerbs said. “Until they get very specific feedback and their parents get very specific feedback when they're doing something wrong, it's almost impossible to understand what is the right behavior.”
Kidas offers users a free two-week trial. After that, users can choose the free version of the app that shows how much time is spent playing, or they can choose the premium version for $6 a month. The premium version includes voice monitoring, text monitoring, game events monitoring and personal recommendations for parents.
The personal recommendations include articles about what is in the game, things parents need to be aware of, how to set up parental controls, slang words and even information so they can become familiar enough to chat with their kids about the game.
“It’s a big aspect of their life parents are completely unaware of. They know that their kids are playing, but they don’t know how the game goes and what’s happening within the game,” Kerbs said.
Some people even found out that their kids were bullying others and emailed Kidas to report a bug, because they couldn’t believe their child would do something like that, he added.
The app allows parents to get alerts when something’s wrong, but it doesn’t limit or block the child from playing. Instead, it leaves any consequences up to the parents and kids to sort out.
Kidas can also be used in computer labs and on some school-issued devices, except Chromebooks.
Jenny Rollins is an award-winning writer, editor, and content producer. Jenny is a senior editor for Business.org and manages her own freelance writing and editing business stories.