Beaufort County, NC

    Cyber Bullies, Sexters, Face Book Stalkers, other worrisome individuals; with all these potential threats out there and the number of social sites available, what’s a conscientious parent to do? A majority of students have their computers and mobile devices filled with apps and programs allowing them to interact online. In this media saturated reality how do you protect your kids online?


    Bright Futures Beaufort County decided to take this proverbial bull by the horns. Together with their school board, Bright Futures Beaufort County created a Media Savvy Night. Embracing the theme that a child’s current and future use of social media creates their immortal “digital footprint”, Beaufort County set about to educate the adults of their community in the intricacies of the modern social world.


    They started the class with a technologist who explained what was available, what is popular, and what this means to parents. He pointed out how apps can be hidden and what media platforms should be avoided. The technologist also shared knowledge with parents on how to better monitor what their child’s “footprint” looked like.


    The supervisor of the school resource officers, who also happened to be a sheriff’s deputy, spoke on the legal aspects of the digital world and problems he and his fellow officers are running into. Then a school counselor and a private practice therapist discussed the mental and emotional trials and tribulations they have seen in regards to online socializing.

    According to Bright Futures Beaufort County coordinator Robin McKeithan, this first session was full of important information and well received. The affiliate has plans to do more classes, branching out with some specifically geared for kids. They also have plans to duplicate the class for their Hispanic parents, using interpreters to make sure the widest audience possible can benefit. Coordinator McKeithan stressed, “One of the main themes we want to get out as we move forward is that a student’s “digital footprint” is basically their resume for the future. Colleges and future employers are searching social media sites and (your digital footprint) may be the reason you do or do not get a college scholarship or a future job. Everything you do online and on social media sites is traceable – nothing is going away.”
    We salute Bright Futures Beaufort County in their efforts to educate their parents and students about the reality of our online world. We hope that this might inspire others to look into similar opportunities. We all know that the digital world is a useful and interesting place. Unfortunately it can also be confusing and dangerous, filled with traps for the unwary. Let’s do our best to insure as few children are caught in these traps as possible.