Can AI Solve America's Cyberbullying Epidemic?

September 5, 2018

It's hard to be a teenager in the era of the internet. Although online communication is essential to many useful modern technologies, there is a dark side to an always-on lifestyle. When young people seek to insult, shame or otherwise harm their peers, they can tap into online resources to make their attacks particularly damaging, cruel and long-lasting. Tackling this wave of cyberbullying is a worthwhile cause, one that could help teens with mental health issues and literally save lives.

In the case of issues caused or exacerbated by technology, it's clear that responses will have to be similarly digital. Artificial intelligence may be the key to getting ahead of cyberbullying before it escalates. AI is powerful enough to organize and make sense of the nearly endless amount of information available in the world today, which makes it a meaningful tool in the fight against cyberbullying.

Reaching for a Solution

Bullying online has reached epidemic levels, and organizations such as the Megan Meier Foundation are committed to stopping its spread. The foundation, created by Tina Meier, began in 2007. Meier's daughter, Megan, took her own life after becoming the victim of cyberbullies in 2006, and the organization has spent more than a decade speaking with teachers, parents and teens about the risks of hurting and harassing others online.

Meier cited data that shows how deeply this harmful trend has become entwined in young people's lives. For example, while not every kid has been specifically targeted by bullies, 87 percent have witnessed such an event taking place. Teenagers and younger children being cruel to one another online has become pervasive, demanding new solutions.

A partnership between the Megan Meier Foundation, Identity Guard and IBM's Watson AI system was formed with the intention of using advanced algorithms to detect cyberbullying in its early stages, providing help for the victims before it's too late. Monitoring social media networks, where online abuse is free to grow, is a way to alert parents and guardians and formulate responses before the psychological harm becomes unbearable.

While in the early days of the internet, parents could limit online access, that isn't really an option today. Mobile devices have made this fact especially clear. People don't need access to computers to get online - and potentially face the cruelties of internet bullies. AI can monitor social media interactions without prying into the lives of minors online.

Identity Guard with Watson Addresses Cyberbullying

Identity Guard's products are all about providing early warning for issues such as identity theft. With the addition of IBM's Watson AI, these tools have become intelligent enough to detect the possible signs of cyberbullying. Rather than parents reading and observing everything their teenage children say or do online, the algorithm works in the background and issues alerts only when there's cause for concern.

Natural language processing and sentiment analysis determine when people are being cruel and what they're saying, then send alerts to parents so they can see the accounts behind the potential malicious activity and know what is being said. When cyberbullying goes undetected, kids can suffer in silence. By employing an AI algorithm to watch over their online interactions, parents can gain an early warning when things are going wrong.

Parents should do everything they can to learn more about the rules governing cyberbullying in their school district and state. They can reach out to the Megan Meier Foundation or the local authorities to intervene and stop cyberbullying before it escalates any further.

Get Identity Guard today and stay vigilant about online issues facing your family members.

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