The White County School System will try to arm students and parents Thursday with the knowledge needed to be more secure online.
White County High School Assistant Principal Amy Hawkins said the Department of Homeland Security offered the iGuardian meetings five years ago, and it is time for an update. She said parents need to be introduced to the latest trends in social media and technology to help protect their children.
“Parents don’t know where to go,” Hawkins said. “They don’t know who to turn to. Kids don’t know how to talk about it really, so we’re hoping that this opens up the line of communication where kids will not only know what to be looking for, but they’ll also know who to go to.”
Hawkins said parents often have the misconception that kids are so tech-savvy that they will not be outsmarted on the internet. She said the hard truth is that much of what kids and teenagers are exposed to on social media is not good. She said people often pose as a student’s friend with a fake profile, and then victimize them through threats or fraud.
She said she encourages parents with children as young as fourth grade to attend the meeting Thursday at 5:00pm.
“As far as students go, you know, they look like adults at the high school level, but they’re still kids,” Hawkins said. “There’s that part of them that they don’t always know what’s out there, so this helps them to realize that they have to protect themselves, and gives them different ways to protect themselves online.”
She said phishing and extortion are common ways for kids to become victims online.
“Our students have changed,” Hawkins said. “It’s not just, these students, our seniors were in seventh grade five years ago, so it really is time for an update.”
She said teachers went through the program five years ago as well, so they will get an update too. She said the meetings are built around different age groups, so there is a different program for middle schoolers, high schoolers, and parents.