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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Anti-Bullying E-Learning // Interview with Pavel Tchourliaev, Kiwi Commons: Innovaters in E-Learning Series

1. What is your name and your relation to e-learning?
My name is Pavel Tchourliaev, and I’m the COO of Kiwi Commons Inc. At Kiwi Commons, we feel that e-learning is essential in educating kids and raising them in a digital world. While we are very aware of the risks that surround the online world, we also feel that emerging technologies, if used responsibly, can be a great learning tool to engage students in the classroom, and an intuitive way to continue their learning at home.

Pavel Tchourliaev

2. In your opinion, what is cyber-bullying?
Cyber-bullying is the use of online technology and social media to deliver deliberate, repeated, and hostile messages and pictures (using e-mail, instant messaging, texting, or sending images via cell phones, blogs, Web pages, and/or chat rooms) by an individual or group with the intent of causing harm to someone.

3. What are common manifestations of cyber-bullying? What does it look like when children engage in it?
The most common way cyber-bullying occurs is through the use of social media where it’s easy to target people. It’s generally done through ridicule, humiliation, spreading rumours and other means that threaten a victim’s reputation and safety. It is arguably more pernicious than schoolyard bullying because it can occur at any time and its young (often anonymous) perpetrators cannot be brought to justice by traditional authority figures like teachers. To the victim’s chagrin, it can persist indefinitely.

4. How can one combat cyber-bullying?
Restricting access to social media sites until children are old enough, can help prevent the early on-set of cyber-bullying problems. ‘Blocking’ itself however, is not a solution. Parents can combat cyber-bullying through communication and education about online issues. Teaching empathy at a young age can help deter children from becoming bullies when they are older. It is also important to have open conversations about kids’ online lives and create an understanding that whatever is said in the digital world can have consequences in “real life.”

5. Are there ways that social media can help children develop empathy and courtesy? How?
Social media is a great way for children to learn what it is like to be in another person’s shoes. It can teach empathy by exposing them to the real issues that their peers might deal with on a regular basis. The lesson that needs to be taught when they come across these issues online is to not be a bystander to bullying. It takes courage to speak up against bullies, but it can make a world of a difference to a person who is being harassed.

6. What is Kiwi Commons?
Kiwi Commons Inc. is an organization dedicated to Internet safety-related topics such as cyberbullying online privacy and gaming addiction. We deliver free seminars in schools through our non-profit division - Kiwi Seminars. Kiwi Filter is a great web filtering tool for parents with kids ages 4 to 11.

Kiwi Commons itself is a blog, with a mission of educating parents and teachers about the risks that surround youth on the Internet so that they are better equipped to educate their own kids. The website also provides resources for both parents and teachers about how to deal with specific issues, hands-on.

7. How does filtering really get at the core issue of bullying? It seems to me that it would take more than simply blocking content. Please explain how you would address cyber-bullying in a more integrated, larger way.
Kiwi Filter goes beyond just blocking content because it works using a whitelist that parents can create themselves. Creation of these safe website lists encourages communication between parents and children about websites they need or want access to. Filtering is also a good deterent for cyber-bullying as it can remove access or reduce time spent on social media websites.

Since bullying is often driven by a victim’s reaction, lack of it can help prevent the escalation of the problem. An understanding of the risks and a responsible online behaviour should be established before children are allowed to use social media sites.

Kiwi provides tools and information necessary for parents to address topics such as bullying, whether they believe their child is being bullied or is a bully. You can view these resources at:

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