LB Students On Board for Online Safety

‘Don’t Press Send’ Program Emphasizes Appropriate Social Media Use

In an effort to be proactive in keeping students safe in their use of social technology tools, Long Beach Middle School hosted a powerful presentation titled “Don’t Press Send” on Nov. 17. Sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders attended sessions led by Don’t Press Send Campaign Founder Katie Schumacher, and an evening workshop was open to parents districtwide.

The program focused on Internet and social media etiquette and safety. Schumacher specifically emphasized guidelines and strategies in navigating social media, creating a healthy balance and promoting mindfulness at home with technology, protecting children from illegal and potentially dangerous online activity, and teaching responsibility from the technology standpoint.

Schumacher explained to the students that “the screen,” whether it be of a phone, computer or other device, creates an emotional disconnect. “There’s a real person on the other side – sometimes even hundreds,” she said, noting that people often forget the size of their audiences when sharing personal information on social media.

“Once you press that button, it is out there forever; there is no getting it back,” said Schumacher, who pointed out that even the content of private chats can easily go public if a participant simply takes a screen shot.

Another topic that the presentation addressed was that of online friends and followers. Schumacher encouraged the students to rethink those with whom they provide access to their accounts and pages, and recommended that they keep their circles small. She asked them to describe a good friend, and helped them to understand that it takes effort to sustain true friendships that are built on qualities such as loyalty, trust and respect. “Whether you are on or offline, the definition of a friend is the same,” she said.

In addition to discussing ways for students to protect their virtual identities, Schumacher stressed the importance of having a positive impact on others and being kind. “We need to realize that our words matter,” she said. “If you say something unkind, hurtful or humiliating, you can just as easily publicly apologize.”

The program also examined the potential ramifications that inappropriate social media use can have on school admissions, scholarships and other opportunities for success. As the sessions concluded, students were informed of photo rights and the need to ask permission before taking and posting images of others.

Online responsibility and safety is taught in all of the district’s buildings in a manner appropriate to each age group.