Back to school: Cyber Safety - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Back to school: Cyber Safety


Technology is supposed to enhance learning for students, but it can actually cause more problems.

From cyber bullying to cheating on schoolwork through the Internet, technology can be a hindrance.

"It is a concern," said Michelle Kilburn.

Kilburn is a mother of three and talks to her kids about bullying. Since she has younger kids, she tries to keep the discussion age appropriate.

"I think the main thing we focus on because we have a 9 year old is the civility of just being nice to people," said Kilburn. "It doesn't matter if you're face to face or if you're online, in the online environment, just being nice."

In a study looking at the disconnect between parents and young adults when it comes to the Internet, it says 89 percent of 10 to 23-year-olds have witnessed mean behavior on Facebook, but only 9 percent of parents believe their child has seen that cruel treatment online.

"That young teenage age is hard to stand up for what you really should be doing or not," said mother Anna Fornkahl.

Fornkahl has four boys between the ages of 10 and 16-years-old. She said she talks to them about putting their phones down. Now kids have access to the Internet and social media almost all the time, meaning cyber bullying can happen just about anywhere.

"It's a little more socially awkward when they don't know what they should say back because they want to be one of the in kids," said Fornkahl.

Fornkahl said she talks to her boys about what to do.

"I have talked to them about not saying mean things to people online, especially putting stuff on Facebook, if it's not a nice happy thought, don't put it there, don't be texting people if you're mad or upset that's not the time to say something online," said Fornkahl.

Kilburn said her daughter’s school talks to the kids about online bullying, and the students sign a civility agreement.

"I do think it's something that you are always cognizant of and work to make sure that one your child is not being bullied and also that your child understands civility in the online environment," said Kilburn.

Along with bullying online, parents, teachers and students also have to worry about another danger lurking on the Internet.

The technology meant to enhance learning for students, might actually cheat them out of an education.

"It is something we talk about even with our girls,” said Kilburn.

Kilburn said she talks to her kids about cheating and plagiarism when it comes to their school work.

"You have to use your own words, you have to find the information for yourself and that it is not acceptable to grab something off the internet and say this is my work, and this is my information," said Kilburn.

According to the same study, more than half of 13 to 23-year-olds admit to looking up an answer online.

But only 17 percent of parents think their child has done so.

"That's not surprising because I think my kids realize they could do that, and I hadn't thought a whole lot about it," said Fornkahl. "It certainly wouldn't be particularly hard with an iPhone to have in your lap and look something up."

The research also said one in 10 kids have cheated on a test using a technique they found online.

"I think I do need to discuss that with the kids just to make sure they realize that is cheating," said Fornkahl.

Kilburn said she thinks parents and teachers can share research techniques to hopefully prevent online cheating.

"I think information literacy is probably the key is making sure they know where to go and get the good information, versus, there's a lot of information out there, so it's just as important that they know where to find a reliable source and reliable information ‘cause you can grab anything off the Internet," said Kilburn.

You can find the study here.

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