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Luther Burbank hosts conversation aimed at closing parent-student digital gulf

Luther Burbank hosts conversation aimed at closing parent-student digital gulf
Cyber Education Consultants analyst Lori Getz will lead a presentation at Luther Burbank Middle School on Wednesday beginning at 6 p.m. entitled, “Creating a Family Plan around Texting, Gaming, Surfing, YouTube, Social Media and more.” (Steven Bernard / Getty Images)

Whether tweets or memes, text messages or snaps, education about cyber technology is important, so Luther Burbank Middle School will host a discussion Wednesday evening designed to help Burbank Unified parents bridge the digital divide with their children.

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Lori Getz, founder of Cyber Education Consultants, will lead the presentation, titled “Creating a Family Plan around Texting, Gaming, Surfing, YouTube, Social Media and more,” at 6 p.m. on the school’s campus, 3700 W. Jeffries Ave, Burbank.

Admission is free. Parents are also encouraged to bring their children, and childcare will be provided. Also, Spanish translation services will be offered, according to Luther Burbank principal Oscar Macias.

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“This is a great opportunity to present information to all our adults in how we can provide education, prevention and intervention in the online experiences of young adolescents,” Macias said.

It’s a conversation some parents have problems initiating, Getz said. “Many are incredibly stuck, and we want to show them how we can deal with it,” she added.

Getz iterated a desperate need for cyber education, pointing to statistics, such as one that shows 80% of children and teens say they have communicated with an online stranger through games and social media, but less than 10% have told a parent.

Getz also noted that nearly every child has reported seeing something that makes them uncomfortable online, but less than 10% have reported the incident to a parent.

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“This is about how the technology works and what the kids are doing — what is dangerous, what is silly and what are bad habits,” Getz added.

The discussion will cover topics such as text messages, social-media platforms, YouTube and Netflix.

“As a parent, myself, our children are growing up as digital natives,” Burbank Supt. Matt Hill said. “As a parent, it’s important to support our kids and educate our parents on cyber living.”

Internet hoaxes, such as the recent “Momo Challenge,” in which media outlets incorrectly reported children encouraging each other to do self-harm, will also be discussed.

Getz said she wants to encourage all parents, from the internet savvy to the novice, to learn different strategies in understanding and communicating with their children.

She also thinks most parents already have many of the tools to be successful.

“Parents will never get one step ahead of technology. It’s like slang,” Getz said. “Instead, they should focus on parenting behavior and not technology. It’s about personal safety.”

Getz added, “Rather than talk about [popular video games] Fortnite, Call of Duty and FIFA 19, talk about personal safety.”

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The event was originally intended for Luther Burbank parents only as part of the district’s implementation of the Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports program.

However, Macias said he felt the program should reach a broader audience.

“We see the value in sharing this information [with] everyone,” Macias said. “There is a strong hope that we fill every seat in our auditorium. Our belief is that the more adults and students learn to positively interact in the cyber world, the better off our Burbank community will be.”

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