The Cyber Tips Town Hall was offered by the York County District Attorney’s Office.
From talking with children about what they’re doing on social media to learning about the dangers that exist online, parents received tips Thursday evening from York County prosecutors on how to keep their children safe.
About a hundred people attended the Cyber Tips Town Hall offered by the York County District Attorney’s Office at Central York High School. White Rose Community Television and the York Daily Record also provided live stream video of the event.
The York County District Attorney’s Office hosted a Cyber Security Town Hall Thursday night at Central York High School to educate parents about social media and what they can do to help keep children safe.
District Attorney David Sunday announced at a Central York safety and security meeting last month that he would be hosting a presentation on social media. All the schools in the district closed for three days because of threats. A middle school student has been charged in that case.
Deputy prosecutor Teresa Jauregui covered the myriad of social media platforms from the popular ones, such as Facebook and Snapchat, to others adults might not be as familiar with, such as Kik and Houseparty.
“We are now living in an age where our children have access to people all across the globe,” she said. “And that is a wonderful opportunity to learn from a bunch of different cultures and experience wonderful and new things, but that also opens up a number of dangers that we have to be aware of and that we have to constantly be talking about and educating not only ourselves, but our children as well about the different opportunities and dangers that are out there.”
Here are six things to know from the town hall:
Ask your children what they are doing on online
Ask what they are into, Jauregui said. What is their favorite app? Who do they talk to when they play games? What kind of pictures do they like to post? What is their favorite filter on Instagram or Snapchat?
“Discuss these things with your children regularly so you know that they’re available and that you have an open mind,” she said. “If you set these parameters now, it’s going to be easier for them to come to you when something goes wrong.”
Throughout the presentation, Jauregui talked about parents setting expectations for their children regarding what they are engaging in both online and offline.
What is posted online stays out there — forever
Talk to children about how a post can impact their lives and what they shouldn’t be posting.
They should not be posting about inappropriate or illegal behavior, offensive language, threats of violence, hate speech or underage drug or alcohol use, Jauregui said.
“…when you end up posting something, it stays there forever because you never know who else saw it, who else could have taken a screen shot of it,” she said.
You don’t know who is going to share that post or who is going to notify whom.
Colleges and future employers review social media or do a Google search, and if they don’t like what they see, it could result in a rejection, .
Children also could face consequences with school or law enforcement for what they post, Jauregui said.
Posts by children can victimize families
Social media offers a window into a family’s personal life, Sunday said. Many people shut the blinds and lock their doors, but there’s another realm of security that has to take place, and that’s through the computers in the home, he said.
An individual who had burglarized homes throughout York County told prosecutors that he used Facebook to see who was on vacation. Often, it wasn’t the parent who posted about going away but one of the children in the household.
If families don’t have their security set up the way it should be, they are opening a window to the world to see what they are doing.
“That is something you don’t want to do,” he said.
Jauregui also shared that parents need to talk to children about not sharing personal information, such as addresses, passwords and Social Security numbers.
What to do about children seeing inappropriate content
Even if parents do everything right, children are probably going to run into inappropriate content — pornography, excessive violence, hate speech or risky or illegal behavior.
In United States, the average age of boys being exposed to pornography is 11, Jauregui said. It creates numerous problems, including increasing risky sexual behavior and body issues for boys and girls.
Parents should talk to their children about pornography, and that is not realistic, Jauregui said. She suggested watching a TED talk by Dr. Gail Dines called “Growing Up in a Pornified Culture.”
Parents can help children report pornography to the social media platform.
Talk about sexting and online solicitation
Children need to be careful about the pictures they post, Jauregui said. Sexting involves an individual sharing nude or partially nude photos of himself or herself.
Sometimes it is meant to be funny. Other times it can be to impress a crush, Jauregui said. But when it is shared, “you literally have absolutely no control of where it goes from there.”
It’s inappropriate, and it can lead to bullying, blackmail, school discipline and police involvement.
If children receive a sexting message, they should tell an adult and not share it with others. It also should be reported to the school or authorities.
Sexual solicitation is another problem, and parents need to talk with their children about inappropriate online relationships, Jauregui said. Parents should watch for warning signs that children are being groomed, such receiving gifts the family didn’t order or becoming upset if they can’t be online.
Parents should contact police if they think their child is having an inappropriate conversation or relationship with someone online, Jauregui said.
Cyberbullying: It’s a problem round the clock
Cyberbullying is bullying through technology, and examples of it include sending mean texts, spreading gossip and posting embarrassing pictures.
Children who are cyberbullied deal with it around the clock. Warning signs include children spending less time on the computer or cell phone, acting nervous when they get a message, and withdrawing from family and friends.
If a child is being bullied, save the evidence, Jauregui said. Take screen shots.
Other actions that can be taken include blocking the person who is doing it and reporting it.
Parents also need to watch out for their children bullying others, Jauregui said. They could be pressured into it. Some warning signs include quickly switching screens, laughing excessively while online and refusing to talk about what they are doing.
It is important for families to set expectations and determine consequences, she said.
Also of interest: Photos: National School Walkout in York County
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