As parents grapple with how to protect their children from the dangers of the internet, Chapel Hill and Carrboro City Schools work to educate students and parents about internet safety.
At a meeting Monday, CHCCS and the Chapel Hill Police Department hosted an Internet Family Safety Night to discuss issues regarding children’s use of the internet, including social media, online predators and sexting.
Jennifer Minella, network security engineer with Carolina Advanced Digital, said one challenge to protecting children on the internet is that parents did not grow up with smartphones or Facebook.
“We’re trying to be responsible and help you guys through something we didn’t go through," said Minella, addressing the students at the meeting. "It’s a bit of a challenge.”
To help parents understand, presenters at the meeting provided information about how to stay alert and in control while on the internet, the importance of a “social media footprint” and how sexting affects teens and children.
Rob Martin, a Certified Information Systems Security Professional who is the president of the Raleigh chapter of the Information Systems Security Association, said the weakest link in the IT chain is uniformed people.
Martin said he suggested people limit what the world can see by deleting old online accounts, removing tagged photos and getting rid of old apps.
“What you put out there, you decide,” Martin said.
Lt. Bryan Walker of the CHPD said sexting, sending or receiving nude photographs, is an issue that many students face.
“When I had a high school sweetheart, cell phones didn’t have camera,” Walker said. “I didn’t have to worry about this kind of thing, but your kids do.”
Parents at the meeting were concerned about monitoring their children’s behavior, especially when faced with the issue of internet pornography.
Debby Atwater, director of digital learning and libraries said parents could access the Common Sense Media Digital Citizenship curriculum that CHCCS adopted on their website to learn more about the curriculum and to share the information with their children.
Walker said the most important thing for parents to do is learn how to communicate about these issues.
“Technology can’t catch everything,” Walker said. “Talk to your kids. Parent your kids.”
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