Submitted by Heather Thacore
On Monday, October 15, each of Bedford’s schools – Lane, JGMS, & BHS – was treated to an Internet Safety presentation by Katie Greer, followed by a parent presentation that evening at BHS. The events were hosted by the BEST/PTO, MSPA, BHSPA, Bedford Youth and Family Services, and the Bedford Promise.
Each of the presentations offered age-appropriate perspective to kids about why rules and boundaries are important when engaging with technology, and educated parents on ways to support and protect their children.
Greer developed her talks geared to school-age children and their parents, and she travels the country delivering them. There was a lot of information covered during these short presentations. This article contains the highlights for parents who didn’t make it to the evening presentation and have children who don’t like to share much about their day.
During her presentations, Greer brought up some key issues to consider with your child and their use of technology.
- Think before you post. The photos and information you post online can be forwarded to anyone and becomes part of your permanent “digital footprint,” which can be seen by anyone (such as future college admissions officers and employers). Screenshots can even be made of Snapchat videos, making those images permanent. We have lost the inherit moments of pause to reconsider something in our new instantaneous world. So make the time to second guess everything you put out there and ensure you feel good about what you’re saying.
- Have respect for yourself and your peers. Do NOT offer up inappropriate images of your body or ask for inappropriate images and never ever forward these images. These images can take on a life of their own and resurface at any time in the future, causing you to give up ownership/control of your own body because someone out there has access to these images. And if you don’t have anything nice to say – don’t say anything. There is no acceptable reason to cyber-bully anyone on-line or off-line.
- Do not open up your communications with strangers whether by playing video games with them or allow them to follow you on various apps. It’s not a good idea for kids to hang out with strangers in the real world, so it’s also not a good idea for kids to hang out with strangers in the virtual world (ie. gaming, Instagram followers, etc) Protect yourself and your information.
- Do not give younger children their own smartphones/devices with data. Phones for younger children/tweens is only needed for communication and emergencies. A smartphone at this age is a want and comes with a need for a tremendous amount of restraint, boundaries, and responsibility that younger kids have not developed yet.
- Put the devices down! Studies show that people are on devices too much. 75% of Lane students agreed that was true for their household. Delay access to devices for your children until they truly need them, not just want them. Once they do get devices, enforce rules for everyone to follow about appropriate places and times to use them to create times in your day when your device is completely away from you and you are just with your family.
- Most importantly – use your devices and social media for good. Amazing things can be done with these devices like raising money for tragedies in very short amounts of time. Let’s focus on using technology to do good in the world.
At the end of the evening, The Bedford Promise, the local smartphone delay movement that is quickly gaining support invited those in attendance to take a look at all of the resources on their website and consider becoming a part of the Bedford Promise community. The Bedford Promise’s mission is to provide opportunities for kids to be free of all of the impacts of personal data access at the touch of their fingers until they are older and more self-confident. You can find them at www.bedfordpromise.org
Each of the following links outlines details of Greer’s presentations to the schools and to Bedford parents
- Click this link to read about the presentations to each school
- Click this link to read about the evening presentation for parents
About Katie Greer
Katie Greer spent the first part of her career in the internet crimes division of the DA’s office and Sheriff’s Department. After some time she decided it would be more rewarding to try to educate families about these issues BEFORE they happen instead of trying to prosecute criminals after something bad has happened.