Dear Families,

We held our Internet Safety Assembly by grade levels today Friday, December 6th with Stefanie Hanley who has an extensive background in law enforcement and online crimes. She has been visiting Maywood MS for many years and shares important information about how to protect yourself, your friends and community from harm that may come from the internet and in particular social media usage.

 Stefanie Hanley urged students today to “think about online choices” and “report when something is not right”. She also shared:

  • Social media is not real in that it is easy for people to misrepresent themselves or their experiences.
  • Be comfortable saying no to people asking you to do, send or say something you don’t think is right.
  • Don’t worry about being a snitch. If it saves or helps someone by reporting you are actually a hero. You can report even if you don’t have all the info.
  • Extortion for inappropriate pictures is sometimes called “sextortion” and is illegal and people who do this get arrested and go to prison.

 We’ve listed additional key ideas to discuss with your student:

 Five Things to Think about Before Posting:

  1. Anything you post on Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, Twitter, etc you can never get back
  2. You can never track or control where it ends up
  3. There is no changing your mind
  4. Jokes that harm people may be considered cyber-bullying which is against the law
  5. Every decision on every device is documented forever—anyone can screenshot anything on their device
  6. Nothing is truly anonymous – posts are always traceable to the author/creator

After you click “send” you no longer control the image or how it is used or who is going to see it.

 Social Media Tips:

  • Be careful what you post. Anything you put on the internet anyone can take/use/pass on.
  • Don’t using first and/or last name as username
  • Don’t use a picture of your face for your profile pictures
  • Set your accounts to private
  • Don’t include personal information on profile
  • Be careful of using hashtag because it is searchable by anyone
  • De-activating location services through social media
  • See Something, Say Something (report unsafe or unkind posts to a trusted adult)
  • Be mindful of what you post and re-post because you are branding yourself

 You will never regret something you did not post to the internet, but you may regret something you did post on the internet!

 Use the Ten Second Rule: Wait ten seconds and ask yourself three key questions to ask before posting:

  • Is this appropriate …the picture, the video, the words/caption?
  • Could I get in trouble for this…at home, at school, with the law?
  • Is there someone I don’t want to see this...peers, parents, employers? Law enforcement?

 Earlier this year Maywood Middle School hosted the showing of the newest documentary Screenagers: Next Chapter at Liberty High School. This film that examines the science behind teen’s emotional challenges, the interplay of social media, and most importantly, what can be done in our schools and homes to help them build crucial skills to navigate stress, anxiety, and depression in our digital age. The director, Delaney Ruston hosts a Tech Talk Tuesdays blog that can be found here and discusses social media, video game use, tech tips, latest research and more. It is a useful resource for families as they navigate a changing landscape of screens, social media, and the conflict, anxiety and depression that sometimes stem from life in our digital age.

 We encourage you to spend some time talking with your student about their use of electronic devices and the internet. Students send on average over 3,000 text messages a month. On average more than 3.5 billion Snapchats are posted daily and more than 1.8 billion pictures are uploaded daily to the social media. We ask that families continue to stress and support “The Maywood Way” for student interaction online and in person: Be Safe, Be Kind, Be Respectful, and Be Your Best!

Thank you for your support!

Erin McKee