Helping teenagers become technologically wise has become an urgent matter. On Tuesday, we invited Larry Smith, Fuquay Commissioner and former police chief, to lecture our students on the dangers of online activity and to offer advice about thinking before you post. We invited him to share his experience as a former SBI agent, police chief, and employer. Here are some key takeaways from his lecture. This is good advice for everyone, not just teenagers.
- Never forget that once you post it, you can never completely delete it. Once a picture or message has been sent or posted, you have no idea how someone may repost it, copy it, or store it for later usage.
- The consequences for texting or posting objectional content can have long-term consequences. Future employers, college admissions officers, and other authorities will check your social media activity to determine your character and whether or not you are a liability.
- Sexting is not only immoral, it makes you vulnerable to future embarrassment, social dilemmas, and perhaps sexploitation. Once you send a picture or post a message, your content is no longer under your control. Several years later, you could find yourself being slandered or blackmailed by someone who has your embarrassing picture or text.
- The most capable person for stopping cyberbullying is a bystander. If you see someone post something unkind or inappropriate about another person, tell them to stop. Everyone should take part in stopping cyberbullying.
- Never communicate with someone online (e.g., chat rooms, video games) who you do not know personally. Law enforcement officials have reported the common practice of pedophiles who pretend to be children online.
- Make sure your parents have a list of your usernames and passwords for all devices, social media accounts, and other apps. If you wouldn’t want your parents to see it, then you probably shouldn’t post it or look at it.
- Develop real relationships, not just online friendships. Spend time with friends in person to make sure you are not spending too much time in front of a screen. It is forseeable that many teenagers will having future difficulties with relationships in the workplace and with family members because they are not developing real life social skills.
- Always ask yourself these two questions before you click “send”:
- What would Jesus do?
- What would your grandma think?
Technology is here to stay, so that means parents need to adjust their training and teenagers need to learn proper usage. Let’s not only supervise properly, but also teach our teenagers how to properly guard themselves from harm. At the same time, we should help them pushing away from the screens and engage in enough face-to-face contact to develop personal relationships.