MASSENA -- Special Agent Timothy Losito from the Homeland Security Department recently spoke to Madison and Jefferson elementary fifth and sixth graders about internet safety.
His talk focused on social media, texting, sexting and cyber bullying.
Losito particularly focused on Facebook’s recently changed privacy policies, which make it harder for users to keep personal information, such as age, school and home address, private.
“You really need to know your friends. You should familiarize yourself with Facebook security and make sure you don’t post any personal information. There is no reason for it,” he said.
“I think the Internet safety presentation was good for us to learn because now we know to watch out for creepers who pretend to be around your age, and are actually 40, 50, 60 or even older,” said Madison sixth grader Jessalyn McGregor.
Losito also reminded the students that photos and messages sent over the internet or a smart phone can be resent to others all over the world. Adding to that problem, some companies store messages and photos.
“If you take a picture on your phone, it doesn’t go away. You can’t do anything on an electronic device that goes away. It does not go away!” he stressed.
“I learned what you put on the Internet or send to someone never goes away. Everyone can always see what you put online- future employers, principals, teachers, and parents,” said Madison fifth grader Jillian Chapman.
The recent rise in cyber bullying – the use of texts, emails and internet posts to threaten or embarrass others – allows bullying to take place anywhere and anytime.
“You can’t run from it – it’s 24 hours a day and that’s why it’s so serious,” said Losito.
Under the state’s “Dignity for All Students Act” schools must help students combat bullying that interferes with a child’s education. Losito also suggested the following steps to avoid or catch a cyber bully:
• You don’t have to respond.
• You can block or ban the bully.
• Save the evidence.
• Set up a new account.
• Tell an adult that you trust about the situation.
• You can report it.
Losito gave students an Internet safety assignment called “Tracking Teresa.” Students reviewed an imaginary girl’s behavior on the internet and identified her top five mistakes, allowing them to see mistakes they might make.
He also encouraged students to visit www.NSTeens.org, which features games and information about internet safety.
Losito will also present at Nightegale Elementary this spring.