Setting up fake social media accounts to bully, or publish questionable posts, has gained popularity among high school students.
Parents need to be aware of that fact, says a tech expert at Red Deer Public Schools.
Trevor Pikkert, the district’s educational technology co-ordinator, said fake accounts make it easy to post, or email, whatever students want.
“A lot of high school students, now they have their main account, and they have their spam account.
“So they have an account their parents and grandparents are on, and they have an account where they can be whoever they want to be,” said Pikkert, who has been making presentations to parents, teachers and students about the impacts of social media and technology since last fall.
He said accessing fake accounts can be difficult, but as odd as it seems, sometimes, students attach them to their main account to promote what they are doing on the side.
Cyber bullying has become more of a problem in middle school, but at the same time, youth are starting to understand it’s inappropriate, he said.
“They’re starting to stand up for themselves, and stand up for their friends.”
He said he’s never had a class tell him that society is overreacting to the hazards of technology and social media.
Young people say alerts on their cellphones wake them up at night — that leads to sleep deprivation that they can feel for themselves.
“Now (researchers) are saying children age two and under should have no screen time because of the brain development. They used to say it’s great for everyone. Even kids can use it.
“We learned as a society that we were just thrown into the deep end. Now, we’re trying to pull back. It’s always tough to pull the reins back.”
He said ideally, parents and their children should develop a technology plan together that suits their needs as well as keeps young people safe.
“If they have access to the internet — they have access to anything. They have access to online threats. They can watch anything they want.
“There’s no real filters on the internet. They can be chatting with someone who is not saying who they are.”
He said parents have to know what their children are doing.
“You can’t just say ‘I hate it. I don’t like social media. I’m not using it.’
“If your child is on it, you need to be on it as well. You don’t have to be on it all the time. You don’t have to post. Just being aware of what’s out there.”
Pikkert said more schools are limiting cellphone use, which students sometimes appreciate. School councils, made up of parents, are involved in developing rules for their school. If parents are concerned, they should get involved, he recommended.
“This technology is amazing. But at this point, it’s so new, we’re not using it well.”