Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Amanda's Story

This morning, at work, we had a two hour delay for professional development. We had a presenter from a prosecutor's office come in and talk with us about cyberbullying and teens getting involved in online relationships with older men/women. The presenter went through a list of all the possible dangers for middle school students and teens that are out there in the Internet world. He showed various videos of stories about teenagers posting inappropriate stuff to their Facebook wall and Instagram feed. The videos showed how these teenager's lives were changed dramatically just from one bad post or picture that they shared and wished they never had! 

There was one video that really shook me up though. To the point where I was almost in tears and I am pretty sure everyone around me was too. Here is the video. It is very heartbreaking, but true and it is worth watching and sharing, so that people can see how serious this stuff really is and how important it is that we educate our children/students on how to safely and appropriately use the Internet and the weight that their words carry. Encourage your children to speak up when someone is being bullied. We need to speak kind words to one another, not tear each other down. Set the example so they will know how to treat others. 

This is Amanda's story.

Please, please, please, talk with your kids, and show them this video! This stuff is serious and is happening more than you know. My son is only a toddler right now, but it still scares me to think that something like this could happen, if I don't do my job as a parent and teach him what is OK and what is not.

Here are just a few things that the presenter shared with us that I think is very important for you to talk about with your kids/students:

1. Don't share your school info, age, address, phone number, passwords, or inappropriate pictures of themselves online. (I don't have to go into detail about the last one, I am sure you all know what is appropriate and what is not).

2. Just because you can delete a post or a picture, DOES NOT mean that it is gone forever. Someone else could have taken a screen shot of whatever your child posted and now has it stored on their device and can share with whomever.

3. Talk with them about what sites are appropriate and which ones are not. Help them select good usernames that won't attract the wrong people. Make sure as a parent you know how to report inappropriate material on these websites that your children/students are using. Also, check  privacy settings and make sure you know who your child's friends are, so that you can spot anyone that might suspicious. 

4. Show them this video, if they are old enough to understand, and let them know how much you love them and how easy it is to get mixed up in a bad situation. Most of the time they are just one click away from posting something that they can never take back and might change their life forever.

If you would like to report any inappropriate online behavior please go to: www.cybertipline.com 

Here is another helpful resource with tech tips for parents on how to teach your child to be smart when going on the Internet. www.netsmartz411.org

Many Blessings,


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