Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Open Letter to Parents Regarding Mobile Device Applications & Cyberbullying

We’ve learned of a recent increase in Hazen students using the “After School” app, a social networking program targeting middle and high school students. While no specific incidents have been reported, Hazen Administrators, along with schools around the country, have found that this network has the potential to easily become a platform for bullying and harassment since students can post anonymously.

The After School app is just one of many apps gaining popularity with youth.  Other apps that allow anonymous or limited view posting include Whisper, Yik Yak, and Snapchat, just to name a few.

All social networking sites have the potential for unsafe behavior, harassment and cyberbullying. We ask that students and parents learn about the potential dangers of these apps by visiting the following links and engaging in meaningful conversations about staying safe on the internet since it is becoming part of our everyday lives:

We have taken steps to limit the potential of cyberbullying at Hazen by blocking After School and other apps on the network, but it is not possible to monitor usage on mobile devices not using the network. Restrictions and monitoring are not enough. We all play a critical role in promoting safe and responsible internet use. Here are other things happening within our school that we encourage parents to discuss with their children: 
  • Students complete modules on Digital Citizenship before given devices to use and take home
  • Inappropriate sites and apps are blocked on our network & school devices being used off site
Here are some more helpful conversation starters for students and parents:
  • Its best not to share personal information even with "friends" online. This includes real name, address, phone number, financial information, school name, passwords, or other private information.
  • Post only what you would feel comfortable with the whole world seeing, including parents or college admissions personnel, even it the app promises to keep things private.
  • Never use the Internet to spread gossip, bully or hurt someone’s reputation.
  • While school staff and parents can set expectations, provide guidance and support, students are ultimately responsible for their online experience and should manage it the way they would in the real world.
  • If something or someone online makes a student feel uncomfortable, he or she has the right to not respond, delete a post, and most importantly tell a trusted adult.