What’s scarier than The Shining?
When you were in school, you probably watched The Shining or Friday, the 13th to give yourself the creeps. On February 28th, 100 middle school parents probably were scared to distraction when they attended Darren Laur’s Cyber Safety for Teens evening presentation, listening to the ways that our cyber safety can be compromised.
The compromise that can give you the shivers is that cell phone photos contain embedded electronic location information that can be extracted from photos posted on social media, for example. Luckily, during recent assemblies at Key Peninsula and Kopachuck middle schools, Darren guided students through a step-by-step process on how to navigate the privacy setting to turn off the GPS mode for the camera. (Darren presented at Peninsula and Gig Harbor high schools and Harbor Ridge and Goodman middle school last fall.)
Another chilling invasion is that “Black Hatters” or hackers can gain access to computers and activate the embedded camera of a powered-on computer to view our personal space, like our children’s bedrooms. Sends shivers down your spine, doesn’t it? Darren recommended that our students place tape over the camera to protect their privacy, to shut down their desktop computers or close their laptops when not in use.
Darren shared many other chilling warnings and vulnerabilities during his captivating, two-hour presentation to PSD students during the day and to parents in the evening. Darren, however, balanced his presentation with an inspiring list of ways that students use the Internet responsibly and creatively. In the beginning of his presentation, he promised that he would not “demonize the Internet and social networking.”
To emphasize responsible Internet use, he cited the following:
* 92% of businesses Google applicants’ names for a digital dossier (for postings that might reveal information about the applicants’ character),
* Before a student-athlete is offered a college scholarship, their social media is researched. He cited examples where student athletes either lost their scholarships or were barred from using social media because photos of the athlete drinking or ingesting drugs were displayed or offensive comments were posted.
As parents and educators, we hope that our students heed Darren’s advice. Following the presentation, Kopachuck students were impacted. During subsequent conversations, students said that they’ll make an effort to be kinder to each other on social media and that they’ll delete anything that looks suspicious. “I know that I need to pay close attention to what’s happening online so that I stay safe,” one student said.
At the evening parent presentation, Darren advised parents to not allow their children to have their devices in their bedrooms during the night. Among the reasons to limit cell phone use, he cited significant, consistent loss of sleep and the possible health risks of the radio waves emitted. Imagine if the majority of our parents limited cell phone use. Texts, Tweets or Instagrams would cease, phones would lie silent and students would get a good night’s rest.
To learn more about Darren Laur, a police staff sergeant, in Canada, you can go to his website: http://www.personalprotectionsystems.ca/
By: Heidi Fedore Principal, Kopachuck Middle School
Image credit: Alexa Shanafelt Teacher, Kopachuck Middle School