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Officers explain school safety and social media

Published On: Apr 23 2014 06:31:02 AM CDT   Updated On: Apr 23 2014 02:11:42 PM CDT
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3-to-1: Ratio of Internet users who think that social media strengthens their relationships versus those who think it weakens them.

SUN PRAIRIE, Wis. -

Sun Prairie officer Brandon Lingle said 75 percent of his time on the job is spent tapped in to social media.

"Social media is so hot.  It changes daily," Lingle explained.

Lingle was one of a handful of officers to present to parents Tuesday night at the Sun Prairie school safety conference.  He joined another school liaison officer to tell parents about social media and how that plays into kids’ security in the hallways.

"The kids know a lot more than we do, and they are constantly, it feels like every time we pick up a new habit that they're doing, they find five more tricks," Lingle said.

Lingle said there’s no way to get ahead of what students will log onto and post on next, but he is constantly asking kids about the latest social media trends and how they work.

"I go to the kids a lot.  I have a lot of kids that I work with on a routine basis, and I just ask them, what's new?" Lingle said. "You know, I just learned about Kik about three weeks ago. It's a new social media website that does a lot of stuff that concerns me but that they just love."

Lingle said if things are posting on walls, those issues would likely end up in the halls.

"Kids say mean and hateful things, and then the next day, well now you have to face the person or the group of people, and it brings it all together," Lingle said.

Lingle said social media can be a useful tool for school officers.

"Sometimes it helps us. A lot of people have posted stuff online that they don't think that we're going to see," Lingle said. "And they're really surprised when I come to them the next day, like hey, I'm seeing what you posted on Instagram. I'm a little concerned. And they're like, how did you see that? And it was like, well, you're not the only one on there."

Lingle said one of his major concerns with posts on social media is the ability of others to know where students are based on their posts or pictures.

"Children are our most precious resource, and the last thing we want is the entire Internet, or everyone who has access to the Internet being, have access to your children.  That's scary for all of us," Lingle explained. "And it's such a simple thing to do to shut the geo-tagging off.  And you can still share your pictures and you can still share your information with family members safely, but you never know where the information is going as far as the pictures and stuff."

Sun Prairie staff also covered topics like bullying, heroin use, and suicide prevention as part of the school safety conference.

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