NEW PALESTINE — The use of social media for students is unending. While it provides a vast variety of educational, communication and entertainment opportunities, the internet is also full of real danger. From information that can be too sensitive for young students to real-life predators out to hurt kids as well as adults, there are hazards when families use social media.
The Indiana Center for Prevention of Youth Abuse and Suicide will provide a public presentation on the dangers of social media and how to talk to your kids about their online presence. The event is being hosted by officials with the Community School Corp. of Southern Hancock County next week.
The gathering is scheduled at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 29 at New Palestine Intermediate School. All county residents are invited for an informative night on the latest trends and technology related to social media and its impact on students.
“This is an educational opportunity because the world of social media is always evolving,” Southern Hancock Communications Director, Wes Anderson said.
With new social media networks and new programs appearing daily, it’s important for parents and guardians of students to have a full grasp of the social media landscape.
“We want parents to feel empowered to manage what their kids are using on their personal devices,” Anderson said.
The other piece of the puzzle is information for parents to get ahead. It’s important Anderson noted for parents to know about all the clever programs designed to hide what a child is really involved in. Such as programs that may look like a calculator app on a device, but in reality are hidden chatrooms or a program a child shouldn’t be a part of.
“That one, specifically, is an app that allows kids to store a bunch of things students shouldn’t be able to get to,” Anderson said.
The goal of the meeting is to educate adults so they can truly look out for their kids and keep them out of harm’s way.
District officials say one of their biggest challenges is working with students to make sure they understand the dangers of social media and their behavior on it.
“It’s a team effort,” Anderson said. “It’s a lot of our discipline piece right now.”
Creating positive habits for parents and students to manage social media correctly is a good thing, Anderson noted, because it keeps students in a safe space and helps parents and students learn together how to manage situations when they do happen.
“We think that’s really important for parents and kids to know what to look for,” Anderson said.
District officials have worked with state officials from the Crimes Against Children Task Force with the Indiana State Police in the past to present this type of program to the community but haven’t been able to do so the past couple of years due to COVID.
This year, district officials are working with The Indiana Center for Prevention of Youth Abuse & Suicide, founded in 2001. The Indiana operation provides evidence-based programming to educate youth and adults and empower them to recognize, react and find the appropriate resources available for help. They base their operation on five different programs designed to educate, prevent and empower families.
“We talk a lot about what social media is designed to do and while we might think it’s designed to help us connect, the companies that design the programs want to keep you scrolling,” Anderson said.
It’s unknown what continued programming does to children whose brains are still developing, Anderson said. It’s why he’s encouraging parents to come and listen to experts who can help them navigate modern technology.