The NDSU Extension Service, Cavalier County, Langdon Area and St. Alphonsus Schools, and Cavalier County Sheriff’s Department have partnered together to bring Special Agent Jessie Smith of the Bureau of Crime Investigation to give a presentation for parents, guardians, and adults in general on being “Cyber-Savvy” in a technology driven world on March 29 at the Langdon Research Extension Center beginning at 7 p.m.
Posted on 3/26/16
By Melissa Anderson
Social media has become a norm in everyday teen life. In 2012 alone at least 90 percent had some kind of social media account. In 2016 that number is probably even higher as the number of different social media platforms has expanded.
And, it is not just teens. Children are becoming active online at younger and younger ages as the numbers are increasing for middle and grade school students who are active online in some form.
“When you ask how many students have a cell phone or use of one – it is amazing how many raise their hands,” Macine Lukach of NDSU Extension said, “Then you ask how many have rules for using that technology and very few raise their hands.”
Even with social media sites having rules and guidelines for use such as an age requirement, there is still the opportunity for children to use those sites.
“Many younger than 13 are using Facebook and Snapchat, having their own account,” Lukach said.
The lure for social media is the opportunity that they present for users to not only stay connected with friends and loved ones but also share thoughts, emotions and opinions as well as stay up-to-date with news and other happenings.
Although social media has many great features and ways to connect, many dangers come with online use. Online dangers include sexting and its negative effects, cyber bullying, online predators, and hacking.
“Being aware of these dangers will help prevent one from becoming a victim,” Lukach said, “Inappropriate social media use can have lasting consequences. Many put too much personal information out there.”
One way to stop the oversharing of personal information by teens and children is for parents and family members to help children/teens implement positive social media lifestyles.
“As parents we need to think about what messages are we sending, what are we role modeling?” Lukach stated, “Many adults are also involved with some of the online dangers such as pictures they are posting giving their location and more.”
As more and more adults move onto Facebook and other popular social media sites, many young people are moving onto other sites as a result.
When Internet safety was first addressed and discussed by parents, the main rule that was encouraged was to have the computer located in a visible location in homes where supervision of online activity would be easier. The advents in technology being more handheld and easily accessible has parents struggling to keep their kids safe online. This is why the Cyber-Savvy session is a must to attend.
Recently concerned parents approached Lukach asking if she or the NDSU Extension Service had programs that could be done to educate about online safety or if Lukach knew of someone who could do a presentation on the subject.
“The concern was both with the youth and with parents,” Lukach said, “They wanted their kids to be safe and protect themselves and to be aware of online dangers. And they wanted parents to learn from each other, to be aware of precautions they could implement, to have an avenue to discuss concerns.”
Lukach agrees that online safety is very important as it is a very real fear as news stories make people aware of the danger and then make those people wonder about the cases that don’t make the evening news.
“The online dangers seem to be happening more and more,” Lukach said, ”A committee formed of concerned parents, school staff and interested citizens to figure out how we could provide students and parents/caring adults with info so they could have a positive social media lifestyle.”
Lukach understands what families go through – the emotions, the turmoil, the fighting, lots of tears and yelling-all as a result of wanting to handle the topic of online safety correctly.
“We just want to provide families with resources to help them out in these difficult situations. If there is anything we can do to help,” Lukach said.
The overall goal of this session is not to instill fear and stop everyone from using social media and enjoying the benefits of being online but to help families learn how to approach, discuss and implement online safety as they talk and learn from others
“It helps to know you aren’t the only one dealing with social media issues – that there are others struggling with some of the same issues,” Lukach explained.
Three sessions on being Cyber Savvy will be held. One geared more towards parents and guardians will take place at 7 p.m. on March 29 at the Langdon Research Extension Center. Student presentations will take place the following day at Langdon Area High School.
For more information, please contact Macine Lukach at 701-256-2560 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.