On September 19th and 20th, Katie Greer of KL Greer Consulting visited Collegiate School to talk about cyber safety and appropriate uses of social media. Greer created her consulting firm several years ago due to “the increasing demands for technology/Internet safety education.” She currently travels across the U.S. informing students of all ages and parents about evolving Internet safety and social media use.
In an Upper School assembly, Greer primarily talked about the consequences of negative social media use and how it can affect an individual. She focused on real-world examples, such as how sending explicit photos can have more consequences in the future than just in the moment, and that photos are never truly “erased.” Greer did not hold back for the Upper School students and was direct and honest about what can happen with a compromising situation involving explicit photos. Greer also talked about social media privacy settings and location services. She also specifically met with the senior class to talk about how social media affects college admission decisions. Greer talked about the positive aspects of social media, like the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge and how more than $220 million dollars has been raised for worldwide ALS charities.
Described as a “role model” by Polly Sommers (‘18), Greer was received positively by most students. Many attendees of the assembly agreed with David Hugo’s (‘18) opinion that “she connected with the audience, and the statistics and numbers were shocking.” Sean McHugh (‘18) said that, “She put an interesting perspective on the topic.” Other students, such as Mack Murray (‘18), described her tactics of talking to students as “aggressive,” since she repeatedly talked about the consequences of abusing social media tools.
Last spring, Greer visited 6th grade boys and girls in their advisories to start the conversation about appropriate social media use. Middle School Guidance Counselor Sally Chambers describes 6th grade as a “critical year for the development in the use of social media and technology” and highlights the need to “start the conversation earlier.”
In the Middle School this fall, Greer met with 7th and 8th grade students about avoiding certain apps that promote talking with strangers online. She also stressed for students to maintain their social media privacy settings and to make smart choices with their devices, as nothing “disappears” online. Greer will return this spring to meet with the 5th and 6th graders.
In the Lower School, Greer met with the students to talk about limits on technology use and to avoid interacting with strangers online. When Greer polled Lower School students about rules and limits already in place at home, “Greer was taken aback with the amount of rules and limits with technology already set in place by Lower School Parents,” says Lower School Guidance Counselor Marella Gregory. She primarily talked about not interacting with people you don’t know online, and that because someone looks like a nice person in a picture, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they are not a “bad” person, and you should only online chat with people that you know.
Gregory and Chambers both noted that students in the Lower and Middle Schools are getting using internet-capable devices earlier and earlier, unlike several years ago. But encouraging the conversation about limits and rules earlier with the devices can teach responsibility. Greer closed all assemblies encouraging all students “to be safe and make smart decisions.”