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Monday, May 27
The Indiana Daily Student


MCCSC discuss kids' tech safety


Parents of students in the Monroe County Community School Corporation gathered at Jackson Creek Middle School to discuss their children’s technology use.

Monroe County Prosecuting Attorney Chris Gaal noted that while technology such as cameras, telephones and video games have been around for many years, information can now be distributed instantly.

“Now we talk about images and messages going viral,” Gaal said. Gaal was joined by other members of the Bloomington community to discuss this issue.

Gaal said there are more consequences that come along with today’s technology and said children don’t have the maturity to understand these consequences.

“We know some of the content out there is not appropriate for children,” Gaal said.
Attendees agreed child pornography has become a prevalent issue.

Susie’s Place Executive Director Emily Perry warned parents about websites such as MeetMe and Stickam, which connects users with strangers. She said child porn has even begun to pop up on Pinterest.

Perry said although parents see the people their children interact with on the internet as strangers, children consider these same people their peer group.

Christine McAfee, Juvenile Division supervisor with the Monroe Circuit Court Probation Department, said she has seen situations where young people will share explicit pictures of themselves, which are then shared with more people than they intended.

She said depending on the age of the person in the photo, this act could be considered dissemination of child pornography.

Perry said it is important to talk to children about the dangers of sexting from an early age, by at least by fourth grade.

She said she has already had a conversation about sexting with her child, who is in second grade.

“It’s happening at a young age,” Gaal said.

Bloomington High School North Principal Jeff Henderson said it is important to teach children about responsible technology use because they don’t understand the permanence of what they put online.

Henderson said the part of a human’s brain that recognizes the consequences of actions isn’t fully developed until age 25.

School rules have had to change over the years because of new and developing technology, Henderson said.

“We can’t ignore the fact that this technology exists,” Henderson said.

He said technology is even more prevalent because children can carry this technology around with them.

Henderson said BHSN students are allowed to use their phones before and after school, during passing periods, at lunch and during class if they have a teacher’s permission.

He said cyberbullying has become a major issue, and said it is harder to get away from bullying because online bullying can reach a child almost anywhere.

As prosecutor, Gaal said he sees more and more cases that involve the use of technology and said it can be hard for parents to keep up with their children’s technological use because the parents might not be using the latest technology.

Gaal said the overall message he hopes families and children learn is that once information is posted on the internet it is impossible to control who sees it and said it
is important to put limits of where and how long children are able to access this technology.

Henderson said although technology has its pitfalls, there are many positive aspects to it, some which allow teachers to pinpoint which topics their students need to cover more.

However, he said it is important to be cautious.

“We cannot ignore the fact that there are dangers that exist with this technology,” Henderson said.

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