Breaking barriers to bring Internet safety to Shelton
With the age of avid technology users becoming younger and younger, parents’ need for a resource that teaches Internet safety is at an all-time high.
From Facebook to Instagram, Scott Driscoll, president of Internet Safety Concepts, evaluated popular apps at Perry Hill School last week in order to help a group of parents better understand them while also protecting their families.
“We have to understand that this is not going away,” said Driscoll. “There is a lot of positives to technology, but when our kids get the world in the palm of their hand there are also some concerns and dangers.”
Driscoll has seen his share of the dangers that can come along with using the Internet while he served on a federal task force for computer crimes against children from 2003 to 2007.
During this time, he posed as a 13-year-old girl to catch predators and pedophiles on the Web.
“He is one of the best in the Connecticut region. I know police departments will go to him and bring him in and stuff, so we thought we would bring him to Shelton to share this important knowledge,” said Dee Kopec of the Shelton Youth Bureau.
Know who you’re chatting with
Driscoll acknowledged that times have changed since he was on the front lines taking down criminals, so his information focused on the dynamics of popular apps.
For instance, Driscoll explained how to determine if someone screenshotted your photo on the popular photo/video messaging app Snapchat. A notification in the form of an arrow with three dots around it signifies that another user has taken a photo of your shared photo. This notification is used to help assure that a parent and child know whom they’re interacting with via the app, according to Driscoll.
“Unfortunately, what happens is when our young people download these apps they are not realizing who they are communicating with,” Driscoll said. “So, yes, there is a higher risk, in my opinion, since AOL chat rooms, to now using social media apps. There is a much higher risk to communicate with strangers, not even older people, just strangers. A bad stranger can be the same age — we just can’t drop our guard.”
The notifications are an addition to being able to maneuver the settings of apps, such as clicking the three dots in the upper right corner of an Instagram account to block or report an account.
Communication is key
Driscoll stressed the importance of communication between parents and their children when working toward being as safe as possible in an ever-growing tech world.
“You’re always going to find an app that you are not going to know about; Scott’s not always going to be around,” said George Kydes, a Shelton resident and parent of three. “It’s about communicating with your kids and actually having open conversations and having your kids be able to be open with you.”