This article was written by Cougar News Contributor Vanessa Sandoval
Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff Deputy Josh Dubin and Canyon High School Assistant Principal Sherry Richenbach are trying to uncover the risks to parents and teens using social media with “Teens & Social Media,” a presentation to become smarter, safer and more responsible online.
Dubin has worked at SCV Sherriff Station since 2010 and a member of the Crime Prevention Unit. The specialized group consists of police officers watching social media and post various topics, including suspects they’re looking for and positive things to engage residents in.
Richenbach has been an assistant principal at Canyon High School for two years, and prior to her current position worked at Rancho Pico Junior High, Placerita Junior High and Crenshaw High School as an assistant principal.
“Social media can cause major distractions to learning. The main ones we see are online threat, sexting, child pornography, etc.,” said Richenbach.
To prevent these actions on social media, education is the main key.
“We are focusing on five applications tonight and those are the ones we have seen impact our schools the most and those are Twitter, Kik, Instagram, Tumblr and Snapchat,” said Richenbach.
Deputy Dubin and Richenbach taught parents how they look like, how to access them, how to create an account and how some of them cannot be monitored for information and themes teens are exposed to
“I’m excited and passionate about social media, more just because the key to it is education. Educating the parents, educating the students before they push send or post a photo that they’ll understand the implication and the imprint that they are making on the Internet,” expressed Richenbach.
Teens will come in contact with something that is not appropriate such as pornography on apps like Kik, a free messaging system that imitates texting, and Tumblr, a photo-sharing website where users can make their own blog site and customize it. Richenbach also brought up that “about 11 percent of the content [on Tumblr] is pornographic.”
To make sure how to use social media and be prepared for its dangers, parents need to become aware.
“Kik should not be an application that your child should be using because once they send messages it’s very easy to delete them,” said Richenbach. “It does not create a trail and it’s very difficult to monitor as a parent. There are no parental controls on Kik. There’s nothing that can protect your child from sexual predators and this is a huge site for sexual predators to use.”
Teens seeking popularity sometimes show off their body parts online and then make the photos available to the world through these sites and more, including Instagram and Twitter.
“The idea of becoming popular is now exploding on social media and kids are validating their self worth through these varies of applications,” said Richenbach.
Facing the consequences for exploding on social media is giving access to anyone to invade their privacy.
“The power of social media is how a complete stranger can now go through your Instagram and see all your posts,” said Deputy Dubin. “They can know what your dog’s name is, when your birthday is and what your parent’s name is. They can also click on the location while you’re posting pictures or checking in your own house and know exactly where you live.”
Richenbach further stressed the importance of monitoring public posts and how access to such posts can be detrimental to a child’s safety.
“A dangerous fact on different applications is that people have access to your children 24 hours a day, seven days a week either through instant messaging, texting, blog, photo sharing, twitter, social nets working, etc.”
Besides the fact that social media applications can easily let others see someone else’s information, posting something on the Internet cannot be easily taken down.
“This is just some of the things we are seeing to encourage both parents and students to have dialogue with each other and really think about once you send the sent button there’s no take backs and some of this stuff follows you for years and years,” urged Deputy Dubin. “You may be 15 now, then you’re 25 years old trying to become a police officer, or a nurse and this certainly is going to be part of a conversation 10 years down the road.”
Posting something inappropriate on social media can jeopardize someone’s future based on their actions.
“If you are in a relationship and you’re 15 years old and you, girl or boy, take a naked picture of yourself and send it to your boyfriend or girlfriend, you are actually committing a crime,” said Deputy Dubin. “You are distributing and producing child pornography and all can be charged as a felony. Once you have a felony in your record that severely limits your job opportunities, ability to vote, ability to own a firearm and many other things. So that’s something to think about.”