On Saturday, July 16th, Digital Girl Inc. (DGI) hosted a discussion on internet safety at The Science and Medicine Middle School, located at 965 East 107th Street. The discussion was aimed at educating young girls on how to use the internet responsibly as well as identify and properly address inappropriate online behavior.
Michelle Gall, founder and Executive Director of DGI, a STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) Program, gave a PowerPoint presentation which outlined many safety tips to follow while on the internet. First, she explained to the (mostly) girls, boys and parents who attended the importance of creating strong passwords and not sharing them with anyone, not even a best friend. The director also cautioned the youths about posting information which could have life-altering repercussions. She cited instances where individuals were denied admission to college or even employment because of a careless or seemingly “innocent” post on social media.
Gall also talked about Digital Footprints. She explained that once something is posted on social media, it remains “out there” forever, even if it is deleted at some point. She emphasized that posted photos, videos or other shared information could unwittingly disclose one’s identity or location and potentially allow predators to stalk or even begin to groom victims. She urged everyone to immediately tell a parent, guardian or other trusted adult if they ever feel uncomfortable about any online interaction.
The youths were also made aware of other internet schemes such as receiving unsolicited offers for tech support or requests to send a small processing fee to someone, in order for a huge sweepstake or lottery winning for the online user to be released.
State Senator Roxanne Persaud, who partnered with DGI in this endeavor, reiterated the need to tread carefully on the internet. She also disclosed that due to recently passed legislation, employers are no longer allowed to request one’s social media password, even though they may still ask to take a look at your account.
In the end, all the youths signed “My Internet Safety Pledge” that states:
Tell a trusted adult immediately if I come across or receive any information that makes me feel uncomfortable, angry or sad.
Ask my parent or guardian before I share my name, address, phone number or school/location with anyone!
Always log out of my accounts and/or sign out when using a device other than my own.
NEVER meet someone I met online in person without consulting my parent or guardian first.
NEVER respond to a suspicious message.
Use “netiquette.” I will never post mean or rude content with the intent to hurt others.
Keep my passwords a secret.
THINK before I post, comment or share because I know that nothing ever really goes away online, even if I can’t see it.