As schools closed last spring and students turned to remote learning options, educators, psychologists, and experts in student health and wellness began to express concern that the lack of in-person, face-to-face interaction with teachers and peers would lead to an increase in student stress and possibly interfere with students’ social and emotional learning (SEL). The experience of sitting in an online classroom, away from the support of friends and many trusted adults for weeks and months at a time, could potentially affect even the most well-rounded, stable children.
And though students most often found themselves at home with parents and siblings, that situation in itself — with students of different ages using different devices needing to be online at the same time, competing for bandwidth, workspace, and quiet with their moms, dads, and other family members — often proved frustrating to say the least.
Educators will admit that identifying signs of stress and spotting mental health red flags in students, even in a traditional face-to-face classroom setting, can be challenging. Distance learning warning signs are even more hard to monitor. Advice is available about how to spot problems and be attuned to, influence, and even buoy up students’ moods and emotional conditions in distance learning scenarios, and these tips are undoubtedly helpful. Fortunately, more — and potentially more effective — tools are out there to help educators truly keep a watchful eye on student social and emotional health.
Just as persons are sometimes quick to blame technology for intruding into children’s lives, technology can also be incredibly useful for helping educators and caregivers gain insight into student mental and emotional wellness. Precisely because students are spending so much of their educational time online, and because studies have demonstrated that students experiencing social, emotional, and mental distress frequently give indications of such experiences in their online activity, the ability to keep an eye on such behavior can be key.
Lightspeed Alert™, a student online safety software solution from Lightspeed Systems®, has become a critical component in many school districts’ elementary, middle, and high school wellness programs and student safety plans because of its proven effectiveness at identifying the warning signs of student emotional and mental distress early enough for successful, safe intervention. Lightspeed Alert can help spot situations of incipient depression, bullying and cyberbullying, potential self harm, teen suicide contemplation, and even the plotting of violent behavior against others.
Lightspeed Alert uses sophisticated artificial intelligence to analyze student data and locate, interpret, and flag warning signs in students’ email copy, Google docs, social media posts, web searches, Microsoft® Teams and Meetings chat — practically anywhere students are active online. With Lightspeed Alert, educators and mental health professionals can rapidly gain timely insight into students’ mental wellness. Activity logs integrated in the software provide visibility into student online activity both before and after a flagged event for effective response and intervention.
Getting students the help they need quickly, successfully implementing teen suicide or self harm prevention, stopping a student from being bullied, or simply recognizing when a child is in the depths of sadness — a tool that can boost educators’ abilities to accurately identify these situations from a distance and intervene in time would be worth its weight in gold. Time is critical in dealing with incidences of student self harm or possible suicide or violence. Lightspeed Alert can give educators and other responders that time.
And that can make all the difference.