Times have changed and the digital world is ever evolving and to that end two Roxbury School’s Substance Awareness Coordinators (SAC), Jennifer Kenny from Roxbury High School and Geri Esposito from Eisenhower Middle School, brought in Melissa Straub from High Impact Youth Training Solutions to help educate parents on how they can protect their children in a digital world at a free parent workshop on Wednesday night at Roxbury High School.
“My hopes for bringing this presentation to Roxbury was for parents to be made aware of the dangers and how to protect their children from the dangers of social media,” according to Esposito.
Straub uses her experiences as a private investigator and social justice advocate to present a workshop with extensive information on current issues, sites, apps and how children are using social media and technology every day with tips to help parents monitor their children’s online activity.
One of the most important points Straub tried to drill home for the parents and their children is that once a picture, a video, a post is out there on the Internet, it can never truly be deleted. Colleges and jobs check social media and what you post now can follow you for years to come. Think before you post!
Another important point she covered was the use of “location services” on your devices. Individuals should review these settings for each app on their phones, tablets, gaming devices and computers. Location services allow apps and pictures to capture geographical and metadata which can be used to track and stalk people. This setting is especially important for younger children who use digital devices. Predators can use this information to locate and harm children.
“The more we educate our children the less likely bad people will get to them,” said Straub. “If you make it difficult, a predator will move on.”
According to Straub, parents should know their children’s “friends” online, what their children’s passwords are, what their children are posting, and who they are talking to. More and more, parents are being held responsible for their children’s actions, especially in cases of cyberbullying.
“As adults, we need to model examples of how to interact appropriately online,” said Straub.
Esposito reflected on this parent workshop by saying, “Her presentation was dead on about the dangers that our youth face today with social media. It is different than when we grew up. Our parents knew we were safe when we were home. Now as parents, we need to be aware of what dangers social media opens our kids to. As the SAC in the middle school, these concerns are real, I see them very often.”
Moreover, warning signs can often be found online by troubled individuals through their online posts, drawings, videos, and Internet searches. Straub used the missed examples from Adam Lanza, the Sandy Hook School shooter.
“Report any threat to anybody. If your child comes to you, listen to them. If you see something, say something!”
In closing, Straub encouraged parents to have open ‘tech-talk’ conversations with their children starting at a young age. She also provided some useful websites for parents to check out to get more information to help them make informed social media decisions. These sites include CommonSenseMedia.org and WiredSafety.org.
According to High Impact Youth Training Solutions website, it “is a specialized consulting company that provides educational training and guidance on issues directly affecting our youth, schools, and communities. Our methodology is based on a collaborative approach with educators, parents, and students themselves. This enables direct exposure to various populations and firsthand knowledge to a multitude of relevant topics.”