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Posted on Feb 08, 2013

Students Receive Helpful Advice About Avoiding Internet “Black Holes”

February 7, 2013

Lori Getz from Cyber Education Consultants came to visit Gillispie on Tuesday for a a Grades 3-4 assembly and a Grades 5-6 assembly. Ms. Getz was direct in her advice and related well to the children as she knows all the popular online games—the names of which went over my 50-year-old head.

Her biggest message was that students needed to understand that, to some degree, the Internet is a black hole. A person drops information into the vortex for one purpose, and it can come out at a completely different time and place to be used for another purpose. Children quickly saw the potential downsides of this.

With the younger students, she talked about multiplayer online gaming for those households that allow it. She strongly suggested that if a child is participating, then he/she should play only with known, trusted friends. Virtually “meeting” someone to play a game online provides no information about the other person’s true identity. And, most importantly, children never should give out personal information to enable them to meet up with a “friend” for future gaming.

For the older children, she added a reminder about the permanence of texting. She advised:

Don’t text when you are angry.
Understand that any statement that is texted is open to interpretation. For example, “Nice hat” could be a genuine compliment or sarcastic remark.
Don’t overuse technology through all its many devices. It’s “virtually” a time sink. Get outside in real time and play. At the dinner table, enjoy face-to face conversations.
Don’t get involved with anything related to cyber bullying (posting and leaving up an unkind message, picture, or video or pretending to be someone else to fish for information). If you know it’s happening to someone else, take action by telling an adult.
Finally, she reminded students that under the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), children signing up for social networking programs such as Instagram or playing certain online games should be of the minimum designated age (some students became very quiet at this point).

Author’s note: Texting is a huge responsibility for “tweens” and it is a feature that can be disabled. You, as a parent, have that right to disable it until they are more able to handle the consequences of their messaging.

Alison Fleming
Head of School

P.S. From our Technology Teacher, Mrs. Moore:

Common Sense Media is an excellent site regarding media appropriateness and safety, and offers an entire section just for  parents:

http://www.commonsensemedia.org/advice-for-parents/internet-safety

The American Library Association also offers a list of resources for children and parents:

http://www.ala.org/offices/oif/foryoungpeople/childrenparents/especiallychildren

And, here is one more!

http://www.ikeepsafe.org

I will add these to the “Parent & Teacher Resources” tab on the Library Home Page for ongoing access:

http://gillispie.follettdestiny.com

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