This article was originally published on: The daily item
Original Article: Agent: Social media can be perilous for students
Written by: Rick Dandes
SELINSGROVE — An agent from the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s office on Monday night warned Selinsgrove school district parents of the unintended consequences that can arise when children go online, share photos or chat with anonymous friends.
“Those consequences can be disastrous, because there are child predators out there. They are very real, they are devious and very patient,” said agent Jerry Mitchell, to a sparse, but engrossed crowd at the Selinsgrove Middle School auditorium.
“While there are promising benefits to using social media as a tool of productivity and expression,” Mitchell said, “the media-raised generation needs to understand some truths of social media and understand the dangers that are inherent in its use.”
Google, Yahoo, and Bing do not forget and they do not forgive, Mitchell said. “We want kids to know, If you put something out there it will be out there forever. The stuff you post online can be tracked back to the devices and that holds true for wearable devices, such as smart watches.”
Mitchell said his generation, “those of us who grew up in the 1980s — none of us saw this coming. But we have to deal with it. This is the world our kids live in. They will make friends on it, or people they think are friends.”
Know your kid’s passwords, he suggested.
But Mitchell also talked about cyber-bullying and “red flags” to indicate something might be going on behind a parent’s back.
“If your kid comes home with things that are not his, it’s a red flag, it could be a problem,” he said.
Minor-to-minor bullying is now against the law, since 2015, Mitchell said. “And if your child is bullying someone, guess who winds up paying the fines?” Mitchell said, looking out at the audience. “You are.
“You need to have a discussion with your child if you suspect any secretive behavior and find out what is going on,” he said. “Bullying, you must say, is intolerable.”
After the meeting, high school principal Brian Parise noted Mitchell had addressed more than 700 students earlier that day about the dangers of social media. “Tonight we’ve talked in detail about the pitfalls and potential dangers of programs like Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat,” he said.
The challenge, Parise said, is convincing students that these bad things can happen to them. “They don’t think any of this can happen to them or that they will be solicited by predators, or that anything inappropriate will happen to them. We know that people have lost jobs or not gotten into colleges because an employer or a college admissions officer checked their online profile.”