CARL JUNCTION, Mo. — A Cyber Citizenship event for parents and guardians who want help understanding teenage involvement in the online world will be held Monday at Carl Junction Junior High School.

Two sessions are planned.

Matt Smith, of the Jasper County Sheriff’s Department, will present “Keeping Kids Safe Online” from 8:15 to 9:30 a.m. and from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Both events are hosted by the Carl Junction Junior High counseling department, but they are not limited just to parents of junior high students.

Lori Brock, a counselor at Carl Junction Junior High, said that because students from elementary grades through high school are also using social media, she and her team wanted to open up the presentations to parents.

“(Kids) live on their phones,” Brock said. “I believe school is probably the only place where many of them are not on their phones, because we have a rule about it. But when the bell rings to go home, they get back to living on their phones.”

Today’s internet usage by children is different from what their parents experienced, Brock said. While she expects parents these days to be internet-savvy and aware that the online world can be a dangerous place, Brock says social media apps such as Tik Tok, Snapchat and Yolo have created a landscape for harm.

She also noted that the trouble with social media isn't confined to a student's home life.

"It comes into the school. It is so frequent that those things that are occurring on social media — maybe even in the middle of the night — the kids are bringing it into the school with them,” Brock said. “It doesn’t stay outside our doors, and the kids don’t know how to handle it.”

More than half of students use the internet for purposes other than homework or schoolwork, according to data from the Cisco/Cybersecurity Ventures 2019 Cybersecurity Almanac. The almanac also states that 29 percent of children have admitted to having used the internet in a way that their parents would not approve of, and 40% say they have befriended or connected with someone they didn’t know on a website or app.

Internet safety presentations also will be given to students at Carl Junction Junior High School on Wednesday during social studies classes.

For more information, call 417-649-5755.

Sarah Coyne is a family and parenting columnist for The Joplin Globe. She can be reached at scoyne@joplinglobe.com.

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