Mt. Vernon's successful Digital Safety Night was kicked off with Superintendent Dr. Shane Robbins providing opening remarks via video from his visit to the Pentagon. He spoke about the importance of learning about digital safety and keeping students safe. He thanked the attendees for being there and the technology department for all their efforts every day to keep students safe.
Next, Hancock County Prosecutor Brent Eaton discussed technology and how it applies to the law. He stressed that whatever is posted on the internet, parents and students should assume it will be accessible indefinitely. Inappropriate postings can have real-world negative consequences with scholarships, job opportunities or other applications. Eaton shared that taking, sending or keeping inappropriate images of a minor is a federal crime, and each image can be its own separate crime. If a student receives an inappropriate image, they should tell an adult and then law enforcement. Threats and harassment crimes all have consequences, even for those who are underage. He also shared the statues that apply to digital harassment and cyberbullying. His presentation is linked HERE.
Detective Aaron Watts with McCordsville Police Department discussed their team's process after they receive a report of social media threats. Through a search warrant, they are able to see all details about the posting. Watts shared some apps that parents can use to monitor their child's use of social media which include: MSpy, The SpyBubble and Mobistealth.
Detective Doug Durbin with the Fortville Police Department asked parents what they would do if they saw a stranger talking to your child at a park, and referenced that predators are trying to talk to children directly through the internet every day. He shared some statistics about predators, including that there are 500,000 predators online every day. Most predators' interactions with children will be online through chat rooms or social media.
Durbin shared some additional social media monitoring apps: Teen Safe, NetNanny, Secure Teen, Screen Time Parental Control, Phone Sheriff and Mama Bear. After downloading the app on the child’s phone, it is not able to be seen. Life 360 is another app that shows your child’s location and how fast they are driving. He stressed to parents, "You are not violating your children’s trust, you are protecting them, as you would at a park if a stranger is talking to your child."
Misty Hall, MVCSC Technology Integration Specialist, highlighted how Mt. Vernon is providing staff with professional development for technology and also teaching students about digital citizenship. She polled the audience with their phones, and in real-time found out about their children's use on social media. This live demonstration of interactive technology showed how students are engaged with social media and technology. Hall stressed to make sure your child’s social media is set on private settings. Some children may have two social media accounts - one parents know about and one they don't. She encouraged parents to make sure you are watching all of them. She stressed that it is crucial to be a positive role model and remember that digital citizenship includes character traits that we want to foster in the physical world such as honesty and responsibility.
Hall stated that the digital world can be a positive space, and children of all ages should be encouraged to use it that way. She shared a digital newsletter she created: https://www.smore.com/cpshg. Monitoring apps, such as The Circle, by Disney, are offered to help parents with protecting their children. There are also parental control and monitoring capabilities through the phone itself and through wireless carriers. Predators might be monitoring your children, so parents should too. CommonSenseMedia.org is another resource to help guide parents with age-appropriate media; this link can be found under the "1:1 Technology" tab on www.mvcsc.k12.in.us. Her presentation is linked HERE.
After the presentation, the audience was invited to the student technology showcase in the cafeteria. Tables filled the large room debuting kindergartners coding robots, elementary students working with videos and green screens, additional digital resources, as well as eighth-grade simple machines and robotics projects. The high-tech academy at Mt. Vernon High School showcased many of their tech projects, including animated graphics projected in a student-built, large dome made from two tarps, three rolls of duct tape and two fans. The student running the 3D printer made custom nickles for attendees, and additional students shared their projects that transferred their custom-built animation from their phone to the computer.
Technology is integrated daily into everyone's lives. At Mt. Vernon, technology provides endless opportunities to further students' education. The safety of our students is Mt. Vernon's first priority, and digital citizenship is an important component of student safety. Parents are encouraged to join Mt. Vernon in protecting students by teaching appropriate digital citizenship.