Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Internet Safety and Sexting

April was Internet Safety Month. To kick that off, ESU representatives from across the state met at the Capitol building on March 11th, to witness the signing of the Internet Safety Proclamation by the Governor.

In an effort to teach children about the dangers of the Internet, local schools within each ESU participated in the Internet Safety Contest. The contest guidelines were published, and we had more schools participate this year than last. The projects were then sent to the state contest judges who picked winners from each category. Below are those entries submitted from our ESU and chosen at the state level:

Grades K-4 - Hand-drawn Poster 

Title: Never Tell Your Password

Student:  Sophie Clark (1st Grade)

School: Johnson-Brock Public School

Teacher:  Sandra Behrends

Video PSA – Tie

Title: Credit Card Safety

Students: Hans Christensen & 

Joy Beasterfield (12th Grade)

School:  Johnson-Brock

Teacher:  Tera Stutheit

Due to the fact that April was Internet Safety month, we have asked Syracuse/Dunbar/Avoca Technology Specialist Gary Stearley to share his article on “sexting” - a new and dangerous cell phone craze among teens:

In a world where the only constant in technology is change, parents should be as versed in technology as their children.  This has been increasingly true of cell phones and the uses of them.  For years a phone was just a device that could make a call from one individual to another, and while this is still true, there are many other features that parents need to be aware of.  The first and most dangerous part is the camera that has been conveniently integrated into the phone.  While this might seem like a good idea, it has started a new craze that has been coined “sexting.”  Sexting could be defined as the transfer of explicit images and/or sexually-based messages to any other phone, or more importantly, individual.  There are many reasons this could be potentially harmful to many people.  With a simple file transfer from picture messages to online accounts the message or image sent could be cataloged, or worse uploaded to many different Internet sites without the knowledge of the sender.  It is also illegal to possess or transfer child pornography even if the picture is of oneself and the image is on your personal phone for this could be considered manufacturing of child pornography with intent to distribute.  To restate this point in a little different manner… you could be charged and added to a state’s sex offender registry for having sexually-based pictures of yourself or others that are not of legal age on your phone.

For parents there are limited resources out there as of today, but I will list some sites below that might be able to help:

Helpful tips for parents in talking to their children

Is Your Teen “sexting”

ABC News – “Sexting” Teens can go too far