Detective shares social media safety tips at RMS

Published 11:47 am Monday, December 21, 2015

Pelham Police Detective Patrick McGill stresses the importance of making good choices on social media and online. (Contributed)

Pelham Police Detective Patrick McGill stresses the importance of making good choices on social media and online. (Contributed)

By JESSA PEASE / Staff Writer

PELHAM— With technology rapidly growing in our society, administrators at Riverchase Middle School wanted to stress the importance of making good choices to its students.

Pelham Police Detective Patrick McGill visited the school to share facts about the dangers of sharing personal information on social media and how bad decisions can affect students for the rest of their lives.

“The society we live in and the rapid growth of technology…the biggest thing is to educate,” McGill said. “You want to teach them how to do things right in the beginning and the effect it can have if you do something wrong.”

He said he spoke to the importance of being safe online, especially while using apps like texting and social media. McGill said Instagram, Kik and Skype are popular apps used for messaging and sharing information.

When parents have the internet blocked on the computer, children can still use their phones to connect to sites like Skype. McGill said every student raised their hand when he asked them who had a cell phone.

McGill said he told the students to be smart about who they add on their social media sites. There is an amount of amenity that people have on the internet, and there are people who pretend to be someone they aren’t.

“You have no idea who is on the other side of this computer,” McGill said. “You only see the usernames.”

McGill also warned the students about what they share with other people, such as images and certain information. He explained that some images are potentially criminal and can be harmful for both themselves and their families.

Not only that, but certain situations can be detrimental to a student’s future, according to McGill. He said students need to learn this at a young age, because bad decisions can have long-lasting effects.

“A lot of them seemed scared but enlightened,” McGill said. “Some of the mouths dropped open when I told them of what could happen.”

McGill usually hosts these talks with parents, explaining safe online social networking practices and the things parents should know about social media.

Working directly with the students, McGill said he thought it was beneficial for them. He said many of them were not aware of the dangers online.

“I think it helped a lot,” he said. “(There were) jaws dropping. I think it struck cord with them.”