NEWINGTON - The internet is a safe, fun place for children to play, says nobody.
Newington Public Schools are encouraging families to educate themselves on the latest and greatest dangers of the World Wide Web at an upcoming evening workshop.
Law enforcement officer, parent and educator Scott Driscoll from South Windsor-based Internet Safety Concepts will present at Newington High School Monday, Jan. 29 from 6 to 7:30 p.m.
The first part of the evening is designed for parents and middle- to high-school-aged children. Students will be asked to depart the auditorium for the latter portion, which is only intended for their adult guardians.
Faculty from John Wallace Middle School, Martin Kellogg Middle School and Newington High School are working on bringing together all three of their school communities for the event.
Along with other administrators across the district, John Wallace Principal Daniel Dias deals with cyber-bullying and privacy breaches on a regular basis.
“Kids don’t have the emotional regulation adults have, so they might post something online when they’re upset with someone and come to regret it,” Dias said. “Adults make mistakes on social media. Imagine being a 10-year-old and having a cell phone.”
Much of youth internet use takes place on social media and in apps on mobile devices. People of all ages might not be aware how these platforms are using and distributing their personal information, Dias pointed out.
“Kids today, their view of privacy is very different than I had when I was growing up,” he explained. “They’ll post where they live and where they go to school. It can be accessible to anyone out there if they don’t use the proper privacy settings.”
Classrooms have changed dramatically in the last decade. Paper and textbooks are no longer the mainstay school supplies. Students now use digital devices to complete lessons, do homework, tests and work during study periods.
Newington schools utilize GoGuardian, a web filtering service provider designed to monitor student use of school-issued Google Chromebooks. This is how the administration ensures students are using their tablets for schoolwork exclusively.
But the second the school day ends, kids can go home and abandon those controls.
The younger generation is often more well-versed in certain technologies than adults, so it can be easy for them to hide the extent of their internet use from parents.
“It’s really a partnership we have to build with families,” Dias said. “Social media is not going away. How do we support it in a safe and educated way?”
Topics covered will include apps and programs children are using, cyber-bullying, sexting and social networking, along with the positives and negatives of creating a digital footprint, current online trends, potential dangers and tips on how to use technology safely.
Erica Schmitt can be reached at 860-801-5097, or email@example.com.
If you go:
WHAT: Internet Safety Workshop
WHEN: Monday, Jan. 29 from 6-7:30 p.m.
WHERE: Newington High School Auditorium, 605 Willard Ave.
HOW: Free admission