June 13, 2024
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June 13, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

BPY Teams up With Project S.A.R.A.H.

Snapchat, Instagram and TikTok are just some of the apps presenting digital challenges for BPY students. In order to address internet safety, a burgeoning concern in our community, BPY reached out to Paige Weintraubof of Project S.A.R.A.H. and set up a series of workshops for fifth through eighth graders. To further support this message, Project S.A.R.A.H. also hosted an evening Zoom session for parents focused on keeping children safe as they spend increasing amounts of time online.

Three Project S.A.R.A.H. speakers—Max Kirshblum, Shirfra Lamm and Paige Weintraub—reviewed the ABCs of cyber safety with the students. They emphasized the importance of children having an awareness that their own devices are linked to the entire world-wide web. Eighth-graders Sadie Haberman and Eva Hendlish-Lemberger remarked that they now understand that, “Even if you delete something you post, that doesn’t mean that others can’t see it. Your footprint always leaves a mark.” Students discussed how to be responsible online as they search the web and post on social media. Several of the sixth-grade girls described, “The panda video in which a creepy guy disguises himself as a little kid and tricks a girl into meeting him after school was really scary.” This forced the children to think about the unsettling fact that when meeting others online, they really don’t know the age or true identity of their chatting partners. The students were particularly engaged by a discussion of cyberbullying. Eighth-grader Adi Bieler commented, “Cyberbullying can be as bad as regular bullying.” Finally, the children discussed “do tell” a trusted adult if they notice any uncomfortable situations or dangers online.

The internet safety day concluded with an evening presentation for parents. Dr. Rachel Goldman Dale discussed the importance of parents being aware of their children’s internet use to protect them from cyber dangers including catfishing and bullying. During the Q&A part of the presentation, parents discussed filters and favorite books about cybersecurity. BPY parent Ruth Wertentheil summed up the evening by stating, “It was nice to know that I don’t have to navigate this alone and Dr. Dale brought up some issues that weren’t on my radar.”

This day of internet safety presentations generated lots of conversations among students. Discussions about grade chat etiquette could be heard in the hallways. When reflecting on the presentation, eighth-grader Benjamin Mitrani said, “This program made me understand how careful we need to be when we use the internet.” Jonah Kestenbaum, another eighth-grader, added, “I’ve never experienced cyberbullying but I now realize how it could really hurt someone.”

Ultimately, these Project S.A.R.A.H. presentations were a fabulous way to initiate important conversations about keeping children safe as they navigate the internet. As fifth-grader Allie Zisholtz reflected, “I think this was very helpful for the whole grade.” BPY is now planning next steps, looking at ways to provide parents with information about family contracts for online safety, appropriate internet limits and strategies to give children the freedom to use the internet while also providing adequate oversight.

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