On Nov. 13, Harrisburg Academy invited Deb McCoy, president of Educational Development Services, LLC, to present to our Middle and Upper School students.  Ms. McCoy specializes in educating young people about smart decision-making when using technology.

For our presentation, Ms. McCoy focused on online presence and how it permanently creates one’s online “reputation.”  First, she educated our students about the laws and consequences for misusing technology to hurt, harass or bully another with social media.  She shared stories of the serious consequences many have suffered for mistakes and misdeeds for harassing and/or bullying using social media.  She also spoke about the damage such cruel acts can have on others.

Ms. McCoy impressed on our students the importance of making good decisions regarding their use of social media, because, as she pointed out, it never goes away.  This is important to understand for many reasons, including the college admissions process.  She shared the fact that a routine part of the admissions process (and of most job applications after that) is the collection of online data for candidate consideration. In other words, one’s online reputation can be just as important as the college or job application itself!  There are even companies whose sole purpose is to capture information that can be attached to one’s name and then sold to those interested in gaining this knowledge.

As you can imagine, our students were quite interested in what Ms. McCoy had to say. Some were genuinely surprised, while some were angered — there was a sense that this was a gross invasion of their privacy, coupled with a general concensus that adults just don’t “get it.”  The halls were buzzing as they left the auditorium, so mission accomplished, Ms. McCoy!

The last bit of information Ms. McCoy shared was to share that there is now an app that allows parents to monitor all incoming and outgoing media correspondences of their children.  This poses an interesting opportunity, but for what…?