As the technological age continues to progress, and children younger and younger have access to the internet and social media, Carroll Lutheran School is working to try to keep kids safe.
The school is working with Vincent DeVivo, the community outreach specialist for the United States Attorney's Office District of Maryland, to put on a presentation about online safety. The event, set for 6 p.m. Monday, Dec. 5 at the school, is open to not only students and parents of Carroll Lutheran School, but also members of the community.
Carroll Lutheran School is in the process of working on phase two of its technological strategic plan, Principal Linda Billig said. It is upgrading technology schoolwide, she added.
"We want to incorporate ways to keep students safe when using the internet when inside and outside of school," Billig said.
The presentation will provide an opportunity for parents and children to learn how to protect themselves when online, she said. Children especially, who have grown up with technology, the internet and social media, feel a false sense of security when it comes to online activity, she added.
"They don't realize that the internet world is actually a dangerous world," Billig said.
The program is one they've given throughout communities across Maryland, DeVivo said. They teach how to be protected from negative and criminal influences on the internet and social media. They also talk about cyberbullying and sexting, he said.
They work regularly to revise the program to keep up with ever-changing online issues, DeVivo said. For most, he added, the presentation is eye-opening.
"It draws attention to something that they have … taken for granted," he said of the internet. "Online you can be anybody you want to be."
Those in pre-adolescence and adolescence can especially be targeted, DeVivo said. If they're feeling lonely or bullied, they can be taken advantage of in times they're likely to respond to attention and kindness, he added.
The best intervention is a mix of filtering out unsafe areas online, and having critical thinking conversations with children, he said. It's important to make children their own first line of defense when they're using the internet, he added.
"Our goal in the program is to work with parents and educators and community members," DeVivo said.
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