Social media dangers to be addressed at New Bremen Schools

NEW BREMEN – Whether it takes hard facts or magic tricks, Dynamic Influence speaker Robert Hackenson says he will show parents how to protect their kids from the dangers of social media at the New Bremen junior high gymnasium on Wednesday, Aug. 31, at 6:30 p.m.

The speaker says he will use illusions along with practical advice on applications parents can use to help them understand what their children see online.

“Parents will learn why kids are getting upset with what they see on social media sites,” he said. Also, he said parents get additional resources to understand and monitor social media and learn how to understand different apps and games.

One concern to be addressed is cyberbullying. “It has always been an issue,” Hackenson said. “They can be threatened by somebody but since the threat is online, the person making the threat doesn’t have to say it face to face.”

He said there are many people out there who love to upset random people. “The trolls are just looking to get a reaction and still be anonymous.”

Parents will be given practical advice about what to do in these situations. “The kids may say ‘Oh My God, this is devastating’ but parents need to know enough to say ‘no, this shall pass’,” he added.

Hackenson said parents of younger children should have a “Kung Fu” grip on their children’s social media sites so they can help their children navigate social media landmines. He compared unsupervised social media participation to the idea of handing over the keys of a car without extensive driver training.

“The only problem being,” he said, “the kids know more about the internet than the parents, but I can provide tools to help with that.”

Hackenson said he has seen growing problems with social media and young people since he began speaking to college students in 2006. At that time, the focus of his presentations was about the fact that whatever the students post will be out there forever, beyond their control, possibly affecting their futures when seeking employment.

Now, as younger and younger people have access to the internet, he sees the negative effects of social media expanding into areas where younger people have little judgment or experience about the world.

After the Wednesday presentation for parents, on Thursday, the school will have various age groups of students attend a similar program.

Topics for middle and high school groups will include sexting. Hackenson said, “The kid has to ask him or herself, ‘Can I trust this person not to share?’” He said once it is sent, they need to realize they are no longer in control. He added that he tells them, “Use the Mom rule. Will you want your mom to see this?”

Marcus Overman, 7-12 principal, said they were bringing in Hackenson so that parents will be offered advice about how to monitor the threats to young people. He said parents are free to attend either or both the parent or student sessions to learn more about the threats.

Overman said, “This idea came about because we were noticing a lot of mental health problems connected to social media/cell phone use in our students. What you may not know is that parents often times do not monitor their child’s social media accounts to see what they are involved in.”

The principal added that it seemed too many students were trying to live their lives virtually and were getting caught up comparing their lives to what others are posting.

“The problem with that is that people normally only post the positive things that happen to them. They portray a perfect life, improving self-image through the use of filters, etc.,” he said. “Social media is not real life and students have problems making that connection at times.”

For anyone who would like to know more information about the speaker, they can go to

By Sandy Rose Schwieterman

For the Sidney Daily News

The writer is a regular contributor to the Sidney Daily News.