Keeping Children Safe on Social Media

At its November meeting, FLMS held its first parent workshop, welcoming Ellen Miller from the District Attorney’s Office. Ms. Miller’s role at the DA’s office is to reach out to schools in all 60 cities and towns in Worcester County to educate students and parents about topics such as substance abuse, bullying, and social media.

The topic for this workshop was Keeping Children Safe on Social Media. Ms. Miller briefly discussed the laws around bullying and harassment, focusing most of her attention on cyberbullying. She cited the following reasons why cyberbullying is so attractive to aggressors: people are brave online because they think they are anonymous, they don’t think they will be caught, and they don’t see the reactions to their aggressive behavior.

Ms. Miller highlighted the newest social media apps, discussing the pros and cons of each. Perhaps the strongest message she gave was that when we use these apps, we create a digital footprint that stays with us for the rest of our lives.

In her travels around Worcester County, Ellen regularly cautions students about leaving negative digital footprints that can have serious consequences later in life such as not being accepted into colleges and universities and not being considered for employment opportunities, professional and semi-professional sports teams, or the military. In her words, “Delete does not exist. Once you post something, you have lost total control of it.”

Ms. Miller ended the conversation with some helpful hints for protecting children while in cyberspace such as urging kids to keep their passwords and devices to themselves, storing devices in common areas of the house, and having regular conversations with their children about the use of social media.