Parents learned what their kids are doing out in cyberspace on Wednesday night during the school district’s Cyber Smart presentation.
The district-wide event is meant to provide parents with information and resources about online safety precautions, age appropriate websites, cyber trends, how to spot, prevent and deal with internet issues, and how to protect their kids’ computers and cell phones.
“The whole evening is about educating parents about the technology that’s out there,” said Laura Boss, director of communications for Newport-Mesa Unified School District, who stressed that parents should not be afraid of the every-changing technology and that being informed is the first step. “This is the world [today’s] kids live in.”
The presentation encouraged parents to embrace their kids’ digital world, support balanced use, monitor their kids’ digital media use, and discuss what sites they are allowed to visit and what they can and can’t download.
A few tips shared during the presentation: Give kids a code of conduct. Remind them not to post/IM/text anything they wouldn’t say to that person’s face; Discuss cyber-bullying with kids and ask if they know anyone who has been bullied; Talk about the importance of privacy and how to protect it; and discuss their online identity and possible risky behavior.
“Raise good digital citizens!” a slide stated.
The presentation also included guest speaker, Scott Burnett’s, top five “must-haves” to keep the entire family safe online.
The district is planning a second cyber smart presentation near the end of the school year.
The event included a power point with information provided by Common Sense Media as well as tips and a question and answer period with the presenters: Burnett, a community consultant from Integrity Computer Concepts, Newport Beach Police Department Crime Prevention Specialist Andi Querry, NMUSD Director of Education Technology Jenith Mishne and Boss.
The presentation kicks off the district’s Cyber Smart weeks, Oct. 24 through Nov. 4, which promotes digital literacy and citizenship through cyber smart curriculum provided by Common Sense Media. The curriculum is meant “to help educators empower their students and their school communities to be safe, responsible, and savvy as they navigate this fast-paced digital world.”
The curriculum isn’t mandated by the district, but all the teacher’s take it very seriously, Boss said. It’s important to educate not just the parents, but the students as well, she said.
Kids’ online activity can affect their safety, reputation, college and career options, among other things in the “real world,” so it’s important they’re smart about their online activity.
“[Kids are] leaving digital prints everywhere they go,” Boss said, they need to be careful where those prints are left and what they’re left on.
It’s not about preventing kids from going digital and being active online, she said, it’s about being careful and smart.
When the Cyber Smart presentations began a few years ago, it was more about introduction into the digital world and possible online threats, Querry said, now they try and educate parents on how to actually monitor online activity, keep kids safe and how to deal with cyber concerns, as well as provide helpful tools and resources.
A police sponsored Lunch and Learn event on Nov. 28 will go into further detail about all of these issues, Querry said. It will be the first of a set of police presentations about cyber safety and technology. They are free, parents-only events. The lunches will also include Burnett as a guest speaker.
The lunch event will provide parents with information about cell phones, iPads and computers, facebook and social networking sites, and filtering and monitoring. There will also be a Q&A period.
The NBPD Lunch and Learn “Keeping Your Kids Safe Online: Managing Technology in the Home” will be held Nov. 28 from noon to 1:30 p.m. at the Youth Community Center at 3000 5th Street in Corona del Mar. Interested parents are asked to RSVP by Nov. 22 to [email protected]
The district is also offering the cyber smart information and workshops at individual schools upon request, Boss said. Information and resources can be found online at http://web.nmusd.us/cybersmart.
“We are trying to arm (the parents) with the tools and information,” needed to be cyber smart, Boss said.