Cyber Safety Focused on Freshmen

Mariel Rossi deVries, Staff Writer

Librarian Sarah Morgan provided lessons on cyber safety to freshmen January 7-8. Morgan taught students about the dangers involved in putting oneself out on public sites such as Twitter, Facebook, and blogs.  Her intention was to instill cautiousness in students who use social media.

Rather than advocating social media abstinence, her presentation provided guidelines for appropriate use. This included cautious behavior when visiting new sites, interacting with strangers, and when posting messages.

Being mindful of how others will perceive a post was a particular point of emphasis. “I am usually careful when I go on Instagram and stuff. I mostly just watch whatever is going on,” said junior Gwen Kessenich.

By focusing on freshmen, Morgan hopes to set student on the right track for their whole high school career, and beyond. “We hope to teach kids ways to protect themselves and that we are there to support them,” stated Morgan.

The popularity of social networking has grown exponentially over the past 10 years, and most high schoolers use at least one application on their phone for that purpose. The Acalanes Union High School district requires that each of its sites provide education on cybersafety.

One concern is that social media can become a forum for harassment. “I want to raise awareness that cyberbullying is bad,” Morgan said.

What constitutes inappropriate behavior is often a mystery to teens.

“I think it isn’t right to bully people when they post pictures or something, but I don’t really know how to tell always when comments are wrong,” said freshman Jasmine Xiong.

The prevalence of poor behavior may be part of the reason why so many teens seem desensitized to it. “I don’t really notice it [online bullying],” said sophomore Vasily Tremsin.

During the presentation, Morgan showed examples of what constitutes cyberbullying. The main goal was to tell students that the school will actively support victims of cyberbullying. “We are there to help,” said Morgan. She also informed students that “they have the power to stop” cyberbullying with the help of adults.

“The reason we are focusing on the 9th graders is because we have learned that a lot of bullying, cyberbullying, happens then. When they get their phones in 6 or 7th grade that is when the bullying starts and they don’t realize they are being mean,” said Morgan.