We owe it to our kids!

Yesterday, I gave this  presentation to the Middle School.

Think Before You Post!

I started with my favorite AdCouncil PSA “Think Before You Post”. These 30 seconds really capture, so powerfully,  what can happen with an image online. I then moved to the topic of Facebook privacy settings, and I think I opened a few student’s eyes about what the setting “Friends of Friends” really means. And, as expected, our students are really becoming active on  Twitter (we are not using it at HH for academic purposes as of yet, but students are definitely feeling out the “social scene” there). When I asked students about this, they said “We went to Twitter because our parents are on Facebook”.  Hmmm… Interesting!  This led to a great discussion about  how public Twitter is… and I showed them how easy it is for me (or anyone) to see what they are tweeting, especially when they mention specific key words or hashtags (and especially the words “Hamden Hall”). “I don’t have to dig”, I said.  “Hamden Hall is a column on my TweetDeck. It’s our “brand”, we need to protect it.” I think they got it.  We talked about how private “protected tweets” are and I also mentioned the situation with a student at Don Bosco Prep (who “protected” his tweets and yet, with 1500 followers, how “protected” are they?).  This segued into a good discussion about digital footprints. I showed them 4 ways to check their footprint (from this post (The Innovative Educator)).  I used the example of “Hamden Hall”, instead of a real person, to demonstrate the results of these sites. In preparation, I tested this right before the presentation to be sure that no one in the room would be embarrassed by the content. Not 20 minutes later, when I used Spezify, a brand new tweet showed up that was not very positive about Hamden Hall. On the one hand, it was a little uncomfortable that a very inappropriate word was on the screen in front of the students, and I had no idea who tweeted it, and yet… it was a PERFECT example  what I was trying to show could happen. I calmly said, “you know what I’m doing when this assembly is over”. I finished up… and the students were buzzing! I jumped onto my twitter and confirmed what I had hoped to be true– the tweet did NOT come from a Hamden Hall student. Phew!

By the middle of the afternoon, the Middle School Dean and Middle School counselor were sending positive feedback my way. The kids were talking about how they were going home to Google themselves and check their Facebook privacy settings. YAY! They were also talking about the inappropriate tweet– (and wondering if we “caught” the person)  All and all, a very positive experience.

Next up was a 7pm presentation to the Middle School Parents. While not as well-attended as we had hoped, all the parents who came said that their kids were talking about the assembly when they got home from school. I went through the same presentation with the parents, answered questions, shared resources, clarified some information and we ended with coffee/cookies.

Overall, I think it all went extremely well. Honestly, though, I am disappointed that more parents didn’t attend the discussion. Here’s my take on it:

We spend a lot of time teaching our kids how to cross the street safely. We teach them how to look both ways, we practice it over and over again (FOR YEARS). We  hold their hands for a long time until we are comfortable knowing that they can do it on their own. We need to do the same with kids online… we can’t send them out there without teaching them, guiding them, supporting them, and answering questions along the way. We owe it to them!

Here are some of the resources that I used for my presentation:

How to Check Your Digital Footprint

Controlling Your Digital Identity

Building an Online Presence is More Important Than Ever


“When Saying No To Facebook Isn’t An Option”

Don Bosco football star gets expelled…


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