How to talk to kids about social media threats targeting schools

Local News

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) – With all the news of online threats happening in the last week in Green Bay, and across the country, it might be difficult to figure out how to talk to your kids and teens about what’s happening.

“It’s important to remember that on social media there is no gatekeeper,” said Jena Richter Landers, a digital communication specialist for UW-Green Bay.

That is also one of the biggest problems when it comes to threats made online.

“Things that spread the fastest are usually things that are emotionally charged,” added Richter Landers.

She says sites like TikTok and Instagram are the most popular for kids and teens right now.

“They (kids) are still using Facebook, but it’s really in a passive way to just have a presence,” she said. “It’s still a very popular platform, but the usage is lower for that age group.”

Social media experts say there is one thing you can do to keep your kids safe and it’s a pretty easy solution for parents.

“If you want to understand what your child is participating in, a good way to do that is to sign-up for (the site) yourself,” suggested Richter Landers.

Psychologist and professor at Duke University Medical Center Dr. Robin Gurwitch says one of the things to remember is that school shootings are incredibly rare. She says talking about what’s happening as a family can make huge impacts.

“I think it’s important to have a hard conversation. Talk to your kids, tell me what you’ve heard, tell me what you’ve heard about this violence, tell me what you’ve heard about this activity,” Dr. Gurwitch said.

Maybe most important, hit home to your child that if they see something, they should say something.

“Make sure someone knows,” Dr. Gurwitch added. “Unfortunately, in many of these instances, before these school shootings, or other violence in schools, people have known. Kids have known.”

Dr. Gurwitch also adds it’s important to have a plan, just in case the unthinkable happens, just like you would for if there was a fire in your home, or a parent was at work when your child returned from school.

The National Child Traumatic Stress Network has resources available online. You can view them here.

Copyright 2022 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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