Parents encouraged to learn about social media websites to keep their kids safe

LATHAM, N.Y. – For parents, staying ahead of their kids when it comes to social media sites is becoming harder and harder, so at least one local school district took time to educate parents.

Parents were at Shaker Junior High School Thursday night to learn how to keep their kids safe from not only predators but also themselves. Social sites have made it easier for kids to make major public mistakes.

Parents were asked at the workshop if they had ever heard of certain social Web sites and phone applications.  

Kathy Whitsett, a mother of two said, “Some of them I've never heard of, some of them I have, so I just want to understand what the pit falls are.”

Parents were informed about the different types of social sites and what they can do to help protect their children.

“Being aware of what they're doing, checking into what they're doing, and just having open communication with them,” Stacey Angell, a student assistant counselor, explained. 

Angell specializes in social media and suggested that if parents don't know about social Web sites, then they should take the time to look it up online.

Most parents like Karen Gomez have a Facebook.

“I have Facebook,” she said. “I got it to watch my daughters.”

While Gomez has taken the first step to keep her daughters safe online, Angell said she and other parents need to do their homework about new apps and Web sites.

“Have their kids show them their phones, their tablets,” Angell continued. “Go through the different apps with them and understand them.”

Gomez is a mother of two as well as a marketing specialist. She said it's become common for companies and schools to use the Web to learn about candidates, and a simple picture or post can have major consequences.

Angell suggests parents start the conversation about social media with their kids. And while profiles online may look private, that doesn't mean information can't get out and stay on the Internet.

There is a lot to talk about when it comes to social media. 

It's recommended that if a parent thinks their child is being bullied or harassed online or is posting things they shouldn't, contact their child's school for the best advice on how to handle the situation. 

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