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Students say Internet can be a dangerous place

Parents and students can learn cyber safety
By: Sara Seyydin Journal Staff Writer
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Marlene Mahurin knows that with just the click of a button in the digital world there can be tremendous consequences in the real world for preteens. So, she teaches a class for parents and children on cyber safety to help educate them on how to avoid the dangers and downfalls of Internet and text messaging communication. “Through that class I teach about Internet safety and sexting and cyberbullying and keeping kids protected with all the safety concerns when it comes to the digital world for kids,” Mahurin said. “One of the things I always try to do with the classes is to have the parents take the classes with their children because things are so much different than when we were growing up.” Mahurin said teens sending risqué photos to one another and bullying each other has become easier and more common as technology has evolved. “There have been kids that have committed suicide because they have been so upset by the constant, mean comments that are out there. Unlike regular bullying it can happen 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” Mahurin said. Putting safety rules in place, like keeping the home computer in a public place and being your child’s friend on social networking sites, can help parents monitor their child’s use of the Internet. “Through Yahoo my niece was able to create her own email account, but every message she sends or receives my sister gets a copy of,” Mahurin said. “As with all these things, I always feel it is the parents’ place to make the decision as to what that child is ready for.” A pre-teen’s perspective Cavelle Guffey, 12 and a student at E.V. Cain Charter Middle School, said her mom doesn’t allow her to have a Facebook account. “I’m not able to have Facebook,” Guffey said. “She thinks there are bad people on there. I am barely getting email just for school. My mom looks at my text messages.” Guffey said she agrees with her mom’s decision to allow her not to have a Facebook account because it makes her feel safer. She said cyberbullying and fights that start online can ruin friendships. “A lot of people lose their friends from cyber stuff,” Guffey said. Quinn Rel, who also attends E.V. Cain Charter Middle School, said the worst thing he has encountered online is when he plays online video games some players use bad language. “If you are playing, sometimes people get mad if you don’t cooperate with them. If you are playing sometimes they cuss over and over again,” Rel said. Rel said he would also be leery about people he doesn’t know online. “You can be another person on the Internet,” Rel said. To monitor or not to monitor? Berta Correa, 37, of Auburn, said her niece was recently in a dangerous situation online. “I have a 16-year-old niece and she went on there doing some website to find older men,” Correa said. “(Her) mom didn’t even get on her about it. It’s not like it was when I was a kid.” Monica Hughes, of Grass Valley, attended one of Mahurin’s cyber safety classes with her daughter Maya Hughes. She said although Maya is only 9 it was helpful. Some of the websites that have children’s games could have potential predators posing as fellow peers. “It helped sort of foster a discussion between us and really learn about the dangers out there,” Hughes said. “Some of the ways potential predators can get to kids through Penguin where people can pretend to be young girls or young kids on the Internet and kids are so easily misled because they are so innocent. It was fun and informational for sure.” Reach Sara Seyydin at saras@goldcountrymedia.com. _______________________________________________________ What: Facebook, Cyberbullying and Texting, Oh My!: A Parent/Child Cybersafety Class When: Thurs., 6-8 p.m. Where: Auburn Senior Center, 11577 E St., Auburn Cost: $15 per couple Event details: Marlene Mahurin, family life educator is inviting families with sixth through ninth graders to attend a parent/child class that will teach about how to stay safe in today’s digital world and what to do when problems arise. The class will cover online safety, cyberbullying, and texting. To RSVP, call (530) 575-6582, or email mmahurin@yahoo.com. Space is limited. _______________________________________________________ Take 5: Tips to protect your children online 1. Be involved in your child’s digital life 2. Have the computer in a public spot at home 3. If your son or daughter belongs to a social networking site, become their friend on the site to have some supervision over what is posted. 4. Establish clear rules with your child about what behavior you expect online and enforce consequences if they break the rules. 5. Teach your children that they should not say something over the Internet that they wouldn’t say to someone in person Source: Marlene Mahurin, family life educator and instructor of Facebook, Cyberbullying and Texting, Oh My!: A Parent/Child Cybersafety Class _______________________________________________________ How common is cyberbullying? •Over half of adolescents and teens have been bullied online, and about the same number have engaged in cyber bullying. •More than 1 in 3 young people have experienced cyber threats online. •Over 25 percent of adolescents and teens have been bullied repeatedly through their cell phones or the Internet. •Well over half of young people do not tell their parents when cyber bullying occurs. Source: I-Safe America Foundation