Digital dangers

MARSHALL – It’s difficult enough to keep up with technology these days, and being the parent of a teenager can be even more challenging than most would care to admit, which is why Marshall Public Schools will bring in educator Dave Eisenmann to speak to students and community members Monday.

Eisenmann, director of Instructional Technology and Media Services at Minnetonka Public Schools, has spent the past five years educating thousands of students, staff, parents and the greater community about technology and safety issues.

“He’s probably presented at over 50 high schools around the state,” Marshall High School Principal Brian Jones said. “He comes pretty highly recommended from different principals around the state as well as just here in southwest Minnesota. He was at Lakeview earlier in March and they thought he was really good.”

Jones explained that MPS had a site pop up called Minnesota High School Confessions, which affected 21 schools across the state.

“It was back in January, about the same time that everything at Rogers High School blew up,” Jones said. “They suspended a kid for tweeting something and it made the front page of the metro papers.”

Jones said that in this day and age, school districts can’t expect kids to unplug from technology, but they can teach them to use devices responsibly.

“Our kids don’t always think about what they put out there and the implications it can have,” Jones said. “At the same time, our kids have full access to technology in their lives. Even when they walk through the school doors, there’s no feasible way to expect them to be completely unconnected.”

On Monday morning, Eisenmann will give a 60-minute presentation on “Being a Good Digital Citizen: Be Smart, Think First” to the high school students. During the time, Eisenmann will talk candidly about cyberbullying, harassment, sexting, the dangers of pornography and why students should be cautious about the information they share online through sites such as Instagram, Facebook, SnapChat and Twitter.

“Some of the stuff kids put out there, parents don’t have an idea,” Jones said. “It’s hard to keep up with the social media tool changes. Our current kids don’t even use Facebook anymore. Dave will want kids to bring their devices with them, and he’ll do some interactive things with them.”

In the afternoon, middle school students will engage with Eisenmann, who stresses that students need to guard their image and future by controlling and monitoring their actions with technology. He will also poll the audience throughout the presentation and the results will be immediately available.

“Our kids today don’t think about their digital footprint or thumbprint and their future opportunities,” Jones said. “So we’re trying to educate our kids, our community and ourselves, too.”

Marshall Middle School Principal Mary Kay Thomas invited all eighth-graders from Lynd and Marshall to join with MMS students, so they could also learn during the presentation.

“We’ve invited eighth-grade classes to come to the afternoon presentation in hopes that the message gets to everyone and will carry over to when they’re ninth-graders,” Jones said.

A 90-minute adult session is scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday in the MMS theater. The presentation is called “Cyber Safety: Catching Up with High Tech Kids.” Eisenmann will give out advice for maintaining open dialog with kids about technology and help parents understand the significant role they play in helping their kids be responsible and safe in today’s high-tech world. There will also be free resources available.

“As parents, we know we shouldn’t let our kids spend all day in front of the television, but we don’t always take the same approach with their phone or other device,” Jones said. “When they’re on there all the time, they can get into some pretty inappropriate exchanges. Kids sometimes let their emotions get the best of them. It’s easy to have digital courage. There are things they wouldn’t say to someone’s face, so they have to learn how to have filters and manage impulsitivity.”