The Palestine Herald, Palestine, Texas

February 6, 2014

PISD to host "Be Safe in CyberSpace” assemblies

Staff Reports
Palestine Herald-Press

PALESTINE — Every day, teens post things on social networks that they could live to regret one day. It’s a problem that school officials at Palestine ISD want to ensure their students don’t face.

That’s why they’ve invited Matt Tibbetts, a cyber safety expert with TBG Solutions, to conduct three “BeSafe in CyberSpace” assemblies Story Intermediate School on Friday. They want to arm the staff and students with the know-how to use their smart phones and social networks in the safest way possible.

“Teenagers think they can post anything on the internet and there are no consequences,” Tibbetts said. “The truth is, what gets posted to the internet is permanent. It can be found on a search engine, get spread over social media – it’s not going away, and that can affect their future job prospects or be used to target them for bullying.”

Tibbetts travels all over the state of Texas training school personnel, students, and even companies on the risks of cyberbullying, sexting and how to protect themselves online by using proper internet etiquette. TBG Solutions creates a program that keeps students engaged and gives them tools to be proactive about protecting themselves online.

“Students don't realize that their Snapchats are unprotected, saved in a server and can be copied and passed around school in a matter of seconds. They have bought into the lie that all of their photos are safe so they can send any kind of embarrassing or revealing photos and it'll be ok. That's simply not true,” Tibbetts said. “I love to watch the light bulb come on when they realize that their private photos could get passed around. It is a very bad idea to put anything on your cell phone that you would not want the whole world to see.”

Administrators and teachers at districts where TBG Solutions has given the “BeSafe in CyberSpace” presentation say they have seen a real change in student thinking toward internet safety.

“The message has definitely effectively reached the kids,” Hudson High School Principal Richard Crenshaw said in a news release. “About 14 students turned information in to us within 24 hours of the presentation about bullying issues they’re dealing with.”

Lindale High School Donny Williams agreed.

“There has been overwhelming positive feedback from students, teachers, administrators, and parents. Everyone learned a great deal about safeguards while social networking. TBG Solutions really made an impact in our school and community,” Williams said.

View a three-minute overview of the “BeSafe in CyberSpace” program here:

The assemblies at Palestine ISD’s Story Intermediate School happen from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. Friday.

Additionally, all Palestine ISD staff will participate in a Social Media Awareness training on Monday. The staff development starts at 8:30 a.m. in the state-of-the-art new high school auditorium.

In this training, TBG Solutions CEO Mark Seguin will cover topics like how to avoid getting fired or creating a liability for the school district due to social media posts, identity theft from your profile, how your smartphone is watching you and giving your location all the time (and how to turn it off), and how to deal with sexting/cyberbullying with smartphones in everyone's pocket.

“Since technology and social media are such a big part of our culture, the need for cyber safety training is that much more important,” Tibbetts said. “Our program really breaks it down so teenagers, school staff, and even parents can understand the simple, practical steps they can take to make sure they are protected online.”