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Primus: Cyberbullying Resources for Parents

“This collaboration supported new knowledge and a deeper understanding of cyberbullying prevention resources designed for caregivers and other adults working with youth in the community.”Johanna Sam, Graduate Student 

            What do you get when you combine research, experience and a desire to support children and youth in navigating the digital world safely?  For PREVNet and Primus, you get an innovative website designed for and tested by parents that provides online tools and resources designed to promote safe online environments for children and youth. This year PREVNet researcher Dr. Jennifer Shapka of the University of British Columbia and her graduate students worked closely with Primus to develop a website to help parents and caregivers learn more about cyberbullying and helping kids stay safe online.

What did they do?

The goal of the project was to create a website that would meet the needs of parents who wanted to learn more about cyberbullying and internet safety. In order to incorporate parent feedback, the team utilized a national survey, focus groups and a review of the other cyberbullying websites currently available to parents. This process ensured that the information on the new website was accurate, empirically sound and reflective of the needs of parents. The team also recognized that technology changes rapidly, so in an effort to keep the content of the site current they did not focus on specific apps and current trends but rather on common themes for all types of apps and how each theme impacts children and youth at different developmental stages.

In reflecting on the project, Dr. Shapka noted that everyone on the team provided thoughtful critiques that were motivated by the intention to create a meaningful tool for parents. She noted that working with an industry partner allowed for the utilization of different skillsets and resources that would have otherwise been unavailable. Sue Clark, the Primus representative stated this project has succeeded in helping to bring awareness, educate families to tackle cyberbullying problems proactively and keep children safe on social media. These kinds of successful partnerships are why PREVNet remains committed to creating meaningful, collaborative relationships between researchers and partner organizations to promote research and tools.

Partnerships like this also have positive impacts on those involved. For Dr. Shapka, the benefits have been directly connected to her research as she continues to develop her own ability to engage in knowledge mobilization activities. Moving forward she plans to incorporate the benefactors of her research into her research questions by considering who will benefit and how will they access the information, in the same way that this project incorporated the needs and views of parents when creating the site. Her graduate students shared similar comments. Rachel Baitz, MA described her experience working on the project as a privilege, highlighting her experience watching the parents in a testing group navigate and learn from the website. “Once the site is live, I think we will have achieved our aim for a larger group of parents all over Canada” she reflected. Another graduate student working on the project, Johanna Sam, MSc stated that one of the benefits of this partnership was the collaboration that happened across disciplines. She noted that through collaboration and participatory strategies (such as the focus groups) they were able to translate the knowledge to make it accessible to parents.

So what can parents expect?

            Parents and caregivers from a wide range of communities across Canada can look forward to a publically accessible website that is specifically designed to meet their needs and answer their questions about cyberbullying and keeping children and youth safe online. It will feature articles, blog posts and interactive content based on the latest research and information available. Dr. Shapka and her graduate students will be frequently blogging about current research and new projects. Their goal is to not only promote new research but to provide a space to engage with the media’s portrayal of cyberbullying for the benefit of parents. “The media portrays the internet as a scary place for kids because of things like cyberbullying,” Dr. Shapka commented. “This will be a new venue to engage in discussion around these issues.” Their desire is that parents and caregivers will engage with the content and learn more about the tools and resources available to them.

Visit the new website here.

Read the press release here

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