Social media safety session held in Amherst

AMHERST, Mass. (WWLP) – Amherst parents had a chance Monday night to learn about ways to make sure their children are using social media safely. An information session was held at Amherst Regional High School.

Parents and Amherst school staff members learned about how they can spot signs of cyberbullying on various social media networks. The goal of the event was to help parents open up a dialogue with their children about safe social media usage.

Just last month, the Amherst Public Schools Superintendent found a threatening social media post, written by a high school student. She said she was able to spot the post quickly because she often monitors a Facebook page where students post anonymously.

Juan Burns from the school district’s family center told 22News it’s not just high school students using social media networks these days. Middle school students, and sometimes even elementary school students, have social media accounts, so the school wants to make sure parents keep track of their children’s online activities, and are prepared to monitor and respond to any suspicious online behavior.

“Just basically finding ways to keep them safe and not only that, because bullying not only happens inside the school, but sometimes off the campus, and there are different ways kids are bullied these days,” said Burns.

Amherst Police officers spoke at the event as well; they talked about how parents can respond to any online behaviors that raise red flags. Parents should always keep a line of communication open and let their children know that it is okay to ignore hurtful comments.

“It can come in many different ways,” said Burns. “It can come just because of somebody’s physical limitations or mental, things of that nature. So you just have to safeguard yourself sometimes. There are methods; you can block some people. You can probably do away with it altogether.”

There’s also a website that tells parents, teachers and students how to deal with cyber bullying. For more information, click here.