Forum to Teach S.M.A.R.T. Social Media Habits

Owings Mills High School hosts a forum on social media awareness Wednesday evening for parents and kids.

Social media networks can be great tools for staying up to date on what’s new with friends and family, but there can be a dark side to young people using the Internet.

“Social media can have a disruptive influence on the schoolhouse,” said Robin Brock, school resource officer at .

In an effort to teach parents and students how to use social media effectively and safely, Owings Mills High School will host a social media forum on Wednesday, April 25, from 6-8 p.m.

The S.M.A.R.T. – social media awareness and recognition training – forum features Jennifer Beskid, Maryland state police social media trainer; Baltimore County Council Chairwoman Vicki Almond; OMHS SRO Robin Brock; OMHS Assistant Principal Elliot Flam and a panel of OMHS students from Students Against Destructive Decisions.

“Schools, in general, have been seeing an increased number of sort of social issues…over things that have been posted online – Facebook, Twitter, texting – things like that,” Flam said.

Tweens, kids between 9 and 12, are highly encouraged to attend, since that is the age range when students start using social networks, Flam said. The forum will feature group discussions and separate sessions for students and parents.

“As adults, we know I’m not going to go out there and post a picture of myself at a bar drinking because I know it could affect my employment status,” Flam said. “A kid, they don’t necessarily realize they can’t put it up and take it off. They don’t necessarily realize it’s online forever.”

By teaching parents how to monitor their kids’ social media activities without being overbearing, and teaching kids how to properly use social media, Flam hopes to prevent problems from starting on social media networks and spilling over to school.

“Social media is an excellent tool, and we don’t want to scare these parents,” Brock said. “So, they have to make the right choices to direct their kids.”

While part of the forum will discuss what can happen when students use social media for the wrong reasons, Flam said he plans to focus on the positive aspects of social networks. He also plans to instill in parents a sense that they need to keep up with the ever-changing world of social media.

“Don’t go out there saying ‘I’m never going to let my kids do this,’” he said. “If they don’t know how to use these tools, they’re going to be at a disadvantage.”

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