The Newport-Mesa Unified School District held a presentation Wednesday evening educating parents about online issues to keep their children's Internet time safe and smart.
The all-schools parent Cyber Smart presentation coincided with the beginning of student Cyber Smart week to discuss with parents why students need to protect their privacy, the importance of parents starting a conversation with their children and what steps parents can take to keep their kids safe.
Despite how tech savvy a child is, "they're not at the level to understand all the implications of their actions," said Jenith Mishne, the district's director of educational technology. She ran the meeting with district spokeswoman Laura Boss.
The meeting wasn't about scaring parents away from allowing their children online, but helping them understand and combat some of the dangers.
Students generally don't comprehend just how vast their online audience is or that nothing is private, Mishne said.
"The diary is no longer under our bed — it's out there online," Boss said. "They are posting intimate parts of their lives."
Children need to understand their online actions can have real world consequences and everything they do leaves a digital footprint — even if a post or picture is deleted immediately, it could still be replicated, Mishne said.
"Once it's out there, it's very hard to erase," she said.
The two stressed the importance of talking to students, but also gave information on blocking and monitoring.
Parents have the power to call cell phone providers to turn off texting or calling capabilities during certain times. There are also browser filters to block some online material and monitoring software that tracks what kids do, but even they aren't foolproof, Mishne warned.
"Even with everything, conversations are important because [kids] can get Internet in other places," she said.
The entire presentation as well as links to the Common Sense Media curriculum is available at http://www.nmusd.us.
Cyber Safety Tips:
For younger students, set up the computer in a central place in the home where the screen faces out
• Consider knowing your child's social media passwords
Have children only friend people they are friends with in the physical world
Keep children's social networking sites private to everyone but immediate friends
Advise children on the importance of not sharing passwords with friends
Turn off social network GPS and tagging capabilities
Check social network privacy settings on a monthly basis
Encourage older students to Google themselves regularly