What teachers need to know about popular apps as classes resume

Updated: Aug. 2, 2019 at 6:27 PM CDT
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MORGAN COUNTY, Ala. (WAFF) - A new school year means new friends for students and that brings more social media interaction.

In Morgan County, teachers got an eye-opening look at what kids are actually doing on their cellphones.

Patrick Caver has traveled across Alabama teaching about the dangers of social media with his “Birds & Bees & The Law” class.

On Friday, he spoke to educators about cyberbullying and what they need to know about the popular apps, like Snapchat, which he says is the most used app in Morgan County.

“I’m giving a presentation for the teachers on things to look for with social media and cellphones with kids coming back to school. There’s so many things to look for and they’re constantly changing every year,” Caver said.

He filled them them in on the "My Eyes Only" feature on Snapchat.

"It's a section where teenagers can hide pictures on Snapchat and if a parent just looks at it, they might not see it so they need to know what it is," Caver explained.

Caver also talked about Alabama laws and the consequences students can face for sending, receiving and sharing sexually explicit photos. He recently polled 12 and 13 year olds and 30% said they had sent or received nude pictures and 75% said they had apps that their parents didn’t know about.

Bill W. Hopkins, Jr., Morgan County Schools superintendent, said the class was beneficial for faculty and staff.

“It’s important for them to see what’s out there. He keeps us up to date on different issues and ways we can better use social media, not only for positive but also educational,” Hopkins said. “Social media continues to become a larger and larger presence and I spend a lot of my time handling social media issues”

Caver says it's important for teachers to be in the loop on social media dangers so they can be the eyes and ears for parents and even law enforcement in an effort to keep kids safe online.

"Teachers can help me get the word out for the students and their parents. If the teachers can talk about it more at school, maybe we can get to more parents because we need the parents to help us out, understand the technology," Caver added.

He touched on several other apps:

Instagram: "Instagram has a lot of potential problems because there's a lot of older people trying to connect to younger people."

Houseparty: "Once you're signed into Houseparty, you automatically open yourself to video chats. Other people can come into your video chat and you can see each other. As many as ten people at a time can get on Houseparty."

Monkey: "It's a new chatroom and teens can sign on and go to branches. In each branch is a chatroom with different topics that teenagers can get into."

“I really want the teachers to be able to communicate with the students and get to the parents. That’s what I’m focusing on this year is trying to educate the parents. As parents, if we don’t know what is going on, there’s no way we can teach it to our kids,” Caver said.

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