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Students learn about social media safety

Social media - OPP provincial Constable Jennifer Tschanz spoke to Grade 9 students at Centre Wellington District High School on March 10 about social media safety.  Photo by Jaime Myslik

Students learn about social media safety

by Jaime Myslik

FERGUS - “Your school, your choice, your responsibility.”

That’s the message OPP provincial Constable Jennifer Tschanz left with Centre Wellington District High School (CWDHS) Grade 9 students on March 10 during a presentation about online safety and the dangers associated with improper use of social media.

“Everybody is on some kind of a device and what we are seeing this year in particular from you guys is that there’s a lot of stuff that’s going on that you guys might not be thinking of, thinking ahead to the consequences or thinking in the now of what’s going on,” CWDHS child and youth worker Kim Sonnet said.

Tschanz explained that while the internet and social media can be a great resource, improper use can “be a game changer for your life.”

She specifically focused on “sexting” and photo sharing.

“Sharing intimate photos with each other, as safe as you think it is, typically leads to that picture being shared among social media, friends,” she said.

“And my message to all of you today is if you wouldn’t want your family, teachers, fellow students, police officers, anybody to see those photos, think twice before sending them to anybody.

“Once you send that photo you have absolutely zero control of what is going to happen to it next.”

She asked students to “T.H.I.N.K.” before they send or post anything to social media and consider:

- is it True?

- is it Hurtful?

- is it Illegal?

- is it Necessary?

- is it Kind?

“There are criminal consequences to being involved in posting and sending inappropriate things on the internet,” Tschanz explained.

“If you share photos of somebody who [is] under the age of 18 you are distributing child pornography. Upon conviction you’re not only going to have a criminal record, you’re going to be a registered sex offender.”

This includes forwarding items that were originally sent by someone else.

“I have seen lives destroyed as a result of social media photos going viral,” Tschanz said. “Things being posted, cyber bullying.

“It exists but each and every one of you, every day has a choice to make a change.”

Tschanz also implored students to be aware of internet predators.

“What you’re posting online does matter,” she said. “These people, these predators, this is their full-time job, 24/7. They will find ways to meet you, interact with you; this grooming process happens.”

Tschanz also explained that employers and schools look at online footprints during school and job application processes.

“If you wouldn’t want your future employers to think those things of you, then you shouldn’t be posting on your social media or on the internet because again, once you post it, you can’t get it back,” she said.

“So think before you’re posting, think of what you’re posting and truly keep yourself safe in the sense that you never really know who you’re talking to.”

CWDHS vice-principal Albert Boutin asked students to consider the people asking to join their social media accounts.

“Why do they want to meet you?” he asked. “What are they wanting to do with you? Why are you asking to be a friend and letting them be a friend?”

He also asked students why they’re comfortable sharing information with the public if they’re embarrassed to show their parents what they’re posting.

“If you can’t say (something) to a person face to face then why do you think you should be allowed to say it on the internet?” Boutin said.

After Tschanz’s presentation, students returned to their classrooms to continue discussing how they have been affected by social media.

Tschanz also made a social media safety presentation to parents on March 6.


March 17, 2017


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