BERKELEY COUNTY, SC (WCBD) – The Berkeley County School District is working to educate parents on the use of social media and apps as schools across the country face an increase in online threats.
The district investigated the threats that circulated on social media regarding Berkeley High School last week, and while they are unfounded, it causes moments of concern and panic among parents.
Cheretha Kinlaw-Hickman, a safety and emergency management officer for the Berkeley County School District, said parents need to communicate with their children about what’s going on online and on their phones.
His office deals with security issues and concerns within the district.
“They have to have an open dialogue. A lot of parents don’t know much about social media, and that’s the time our kids were raised, that’s all they know, ”she said. “Parents will need to go on board and do some research and sit down with their kids and talk about these different applications.”
The apps the district said it has had the most problems with are TikTok and Facebook. “These are the main issues we saw in the school setting.”
“Some of these apps are great apps, but because they’re used in a negative way, it affects a lot of people,” she said.
When a threat is discovered, district officials try to find out where it came from, and then contact law enforcement. Kinlaw-Hickman said that because it is often transmitted by so many different individuals, they have to contact social media platforms to get the information.
“By the time we normally get it, sometimes it’s not actually students in our school, it’s actually something that someone has taken and added,” she said.
According to her, many parents fear creating a trust problem with their children. “Some parents think that if I snoop, if I ask too many questions, then I’m going to cross the barrier. But what parents don’t realize is that it’s important for them to snoop, ”she said.
Kinlaw-Hickman said it’s important for parents to have this open dialogue. “When you have this open dialogue with your child and explain to them that there are safety risks, and that is why they are worried as parents. Not that they don’t want them to communicate with their friends or take advantage of the Internet.
She thinks parents need to step up and start researching and investigating apps, “so they can know what it’s about and talk to their kids and let them know” I love you, but it ‘I must do to protect you, “” she said.
“Kids really want to be seen,” Kinlaw-Hickman said. “When they post something they get likes, and a lot of times when they post these things it’s not about trying to hurt someone, they’re upset. Children don’t really know how to deal with their emotions.
She said parents need to ask questions, even if they don’t know what’s going on with the apps. “There are so many adults who can help them with this,” she said. “They don’t necessarily have to rely on their kids, but build that relationship with their kids and sit down with them and talk about the apps and let them explain what the app is and what they’re doing on those apps. It would make a big difference. “
The Berkeley County School District will host a series of presentations aimed at teaching parents how to use social media, how certain apps work, and which apps can act as a safe for hidden messages and information. Details on these events will be released by the district later.