What do Atlanta, New York City, Portland and Pryor have in common? They are all home to Google’s “You are what you share,” online literacy seminar.
Roughly 600 Pryor Junior High School students filed into the auditorium Thursday afternoon to learn about Internet safety. Why Pryor?
“We’re a proud part of the community here so it is a great place to start,” said Scott Levitan, Google’s Marketing Director.
Mayor Jimmy Tramel welcomed the students and reminded them how fortunate Pryor is to have Google in the community. He spoke of the opportunities the company yields, about of the importance of Internet safety.
The seminar, led by Ben and Jamie (no last names were used), is designed specifically for this age group.
It was interactive, fast paced and informative. “It’s like driver’s ed for the Internet,” said Pryor School Superintendent Don Raleigh.
The duo referenced popular viral videos, such as Psy’s Gangnam Style, and the widely shared Instagram picture of Justin Bieber’s backside, all in the name of education.
Jamie and Ben relayed statistics to demonstrate how dependent people are on technology.
“Seventy-five percent of Americans use the phone in the bathroom,” they said, receiving the appropriate groans of disgust. “And 1- in- 5 people have dropped their phone in the toilet.”
The students were given five key tips:
• Keep your devices safe- Keep your screen and computer locked, and out of the wrong hands.
• Don’t share your passwords- One out of three teens have shared a password with a friend.
• Know your settings- Understand and adjust your setting so you share only with people you want to.
• If it’s phishy, avoid it- be on the lookout for suspicious emails and sites that try to steal passwords.
• Make strong passwords- use at least eight characters and mix letters, numbers and symbols. Also, make them unique to each site.
“Remember, you are what you share,” Ben and Jamie told the students.
Everything you share online has the potential to effect your reputation, they said. People can learn a lot about you before they even meet you.
Jamie and Ben pulled volunteers from among the eager students to have a “password face-off.” The students were given advice on how to create a secure password, and were then challenged to put their new knowledge to the test.
They warned the students of falling victim to online scams.
“You wouldn’t take candy from strangers in real life, so don’t do it online,” said Jamie. “If it seems to good to be true, it usually is.”
They stressed how permanent online information is.
“Information online is like a tattoo, it’s easy to get but nearly impossible to get rid of,” said Ben. “Before you put a picture online, ask yourself if you would be OK with your grandma seeing it.”
Levitan stressed the importance of digital education.
“This is such an important age group,” said Levitan. “At this age they’re beginning to share and communicate digitally. So it’s best to teach them these skills now so they can get in the habit of being safe online.”
Everyone wins when people have better online skills, he said.
“These kids are possibly the first generation to communicate more digitally than traditionally,” said Levitan.
Jamie and Ben ended the seminar with an inspirational video showing the students the power of technology, and the greatness that it can achieve. The students were released with the lingering message of “It’s your turn to change the world.”