Sunday, November 17, 2019

Parents Get a Lesson In Online Safety

On Monday, December 5th, Southlake Department of Public Safety School Resource officer Brett Wilson held a class for parents of K-4thgrade elementary students at Old Union Elementary School.   Parents received valuable information and online safety tips to help educate them about ways to protect their children from unsafe websites and individuals who may want to cause them harm.

SRO Brett Wilson

SRO Wilson covered everything from cyber-bullying to how children might innocently provide information that could make them a target of an online predator. Officer Wilson let parents know that it’s not just computers and iPads that parents need to pay close attention to.  All hand-held devices, including electronic games like Nintendo and X-boxes, can leave children vulnerable.  Parents learned that these electronic devices have parental controls just like a home computer or laptop.

The parents who participated asked a lot of great questions and discovered that it is never too early to talk to your children about the dangers lurking on the internet.  SRO Wilson explained that “pop-ups” and one innocent “click” can put a child at risk.  They can find themselves in an inappropriate chat room, or website they shouldn’t be on, without even trying.

Online Safety Lesson

Parents were given advice on how to handle various situations such as discovering their child has landed on an “over 18” website or a chat room. “Try to keep a calm demeanor when talking to your child.  The goal is to find out what information they may have inadvertently passed along. You want to make them feel comfortable to open up to you,” said Officer Wilson.

The class was a very eye-opening experience for parents. As one mom put it, “children need to know that once they put information or a picture on the internet, it is there forever.”  Principal Mary Johnston added, “It’s important for children to know that it is ‘ok’ to say ‘no’; that they don’t have to provide certain information just because someone asks them to.  We want them to know there is a difference between being polite and being smart and safe.”

SRO Wilson gave parents a list of things they can do to help protect their children:

  • Check the parental controls on electronic devices including hand-held games.
  • Check the online history or “cookies”on all of your children’s online and electronic devices to make sure the security settings that you set have not been changed.
  • KEEP PRIVATE INFORMATION PRIVATE. Talk to your children about not posting any pictures or information on Facebook or other social media sites that can attract unwanted attention or a predator. I.e.; a T-shirt with a logo that can identify which elementary school a student attends.
  • Learn more about the acronyms and internet lingo children use on social websites so that you are knowledgeable about the conversations they are having online with others.

SRO Wilson is just one of several School Resource Officers that we have working in the Southlake, Carroll Independent School District. The SRO’s are available during school hours and make routine checks at all local schools from elementary to high school.  They are an invaluable resource to educators, students and parents.

You can find more information about the SRO’s and the educational programs they offer on their Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/SouthlakeSRO and also on our Southlake DPS page http://www.facebook.com/pages/Southlake-DPS.