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Internet and Cyber Safety


Cindy: Hi I’m Cindy Speaker. I’m talking today with David Daggett of the North Carolina law firm, Daggett Shuler, Attorneys at Law. David’s going to share with us today his insights regarding Internet safety.

David: Hi, Cindy.

Cindy: How are you doing?

David: Thanks for having me on today.

Cindy: Thank you for being here. Well, David, this is a complicated topic, and one of the first things I want you to talk about – By the way I’ve heard you speak many times. You’re really an expert on this, and I know different
places have had you come and present. But talk initially about an introduction about where computers have come from and just the environment and landscape.

David: Right, right. Well, I think it’s important to protect our young people, to realize how fast technology’s advanced. When the first computers came out, they would fill the whole room, and they were slower than what we
have in our pocket. You talked me into getting an iPhone.

The iPhone can do more than a whole bank of computers could do even just a few years ago. And the problem is we have to realize that young people are exposed to the Internet which is the whole wide world at any point, any time, no matter where they are. And there are several very, very important factors that young people, they really don’t realize, and they’re not aware of, until you get older. For us hindsight’s a whole lot better than it was
when we were younger.

Cindy: That’s right.

David: And I think the first area is reputation. Your reputation is maybe the most powerful thing you have to carry with you and have with you your entire life. With computers, anything you put down digitally, any of those
crazy photos from when we were young, you put those out there, you put them on Facebook. You have to assume that they’re out there forever, forever.

And, in fact, somebody applies for a job, what do you do? You Google them. You go on Facebook. You look them up. If somebody has something goofy, what do you think? You think they’re goofy.

David: You don’t hire them. And young people have to be aware that they are creating their reputation at a much younger age than we did when we were growing up. The other thing about that is the Internet is dangerous, and we
can go into that a little bit later. It’s dangerous. But the thing I always say is when my son was five years old, I wouldn’t turn them loose with a chainsaw, would I?

Cindy: No.

David: Well, you’re doing the exact same thing with a young person if you’re turning them loose, unsupervised, with the Internet.

Cindy: I agree with you. Just to go back a minute with cautions, really some of the cautions, I see the young people out there, and they’re putting these things on, and I think the reason it’s so important that the parents to be involved in supervision and helping them understand the cautions is because I don’t think it’s not connecting how important the reputation is that they’re putting out there.

David: It’s not connecting. I’ve been very involved with drinking and driving issues and Safe Sober Prom Night. The principals are exactly the same. Young people need to be reminded constantly the issue’s awareness. You have to be reminded constantly of the dangers that are out there, the things that they’re putting out there, they’re endangering their reputation.

They have to be reminded constantly. They need positive peer pressure. You need to create an environment where they have a positive effect on each other. And then they need community’s support from us, which doesn’t mean scolding them when they trip up or make the mistake. It means giving them encouragement and support when they do the good things and to help them on that road to success.

Cindy: As far as education, what do you think because I think there’s two parts? I think, especially with the younger children, the parents can be very involved in that. With the teenagers, how much do you think the school system should get involved in that education?

David: Well, the school systems are involved, and I’m proud of them, but it’s beyond the school system. When you talk to young people, they understand this right away. You have to walk them into it, but they understand the issue with their reputation. For example, you ask them a question, “What did your momma tell you when you were young about people
who you don’t know?”

Cindy: Don’t talk to strangers.

David: Don’t talk to strangers. You say that in an auditorium full of students, they all respond at the same time. You then have to link that to their Internet activity. Don’t talk to strangers. Some of the statistics show that teenagers have inadvertently been exposed to predatory activity over the Internet, 70 percent of all teenagers.

Cindy: Wow!

David: So it is out there. And it’s happening all the time. Don’t talk to strangers. Likewise, if you do talk to a stranger, even if it’s inadvertent and something’s going on, tell your parent, tell a teacher, tell a trusted adult because there are bad things going on, and there’s bad things out there.

Cindy: David, if we could, especially in your line of work, let me take it a little bit further. I had a friend of mine who was working security, and what he was hired for, part of his job, was to go on a Facebook page, the defense, had checked the Facebook page to find out where this woman, who had a case, was out partying while she said she had issues. But the amount of trouble that insurance company went to, and that defense firm went to, to investigate every aspect of her Internet presence and reputation was unbelievable, and I think that’s something people don’t realize.

David: Oh, your Internet presence and your Internet reputation pervades every aspect of your life. It is everywhere you go. You need to protect that reputation. You just need to do it. The nice thing is you can even make it positive. You can put positive things on your Facebook page.

Cindy: Right. Yeah.

David: You can put positive things on the Internet so that when you go to apply to college, that when the college goes to look you up, they see good things. They see nice things, good pictures of you with other nice kids. So you can turn it into a real positive, also.

Cindy: Exactly.

David: There’s another thing when I talk to an auditorium full of kids is, “What did your momma tell you about people that you hang out with?”

Cindy: You become like the people you are, that kind of thing.

David: Yeah, yeah, yeah. You become who you hang with. What’s the old saying, “If you want to know what your kids are like, look at their friends” because then you’ll know what they’re like. You become who you hang with.

And that includes on the Internet. There is all sorts of good material out there. There’s brain food, positive, mental, brain food that you can take in to educate yourself. You can travel any place in the world, sitting at
your desk, and all those things can be positive. There is also a tremendous problem with Internet pornography and teenagers accessing Internet pornography. It’s a terrible problem, and you just have to avoid it.

It’s just like the drinking alcohol example we used earlier. You just have to say no to alcohol and drugs. You just have to say no to Internet pornography or any other material out there that isn’t a positive influence on you or that if you link to it or anything else, if it doesn’t reflect positively on you, don’t do it.

Cindy: We’ve talked about a number of things, and this has been great. Thank you for your insights. What I would like to end with is: give us a couple of bullet point takeaways.

David: Well, bullet point takeaways are number one, younger children, supervise their Internet activity. Keep computers in a public place. Don’t let them take computers to their bedroom. Have it in the family room, the living room, the kitchen, where the adults are. There are all sorts of studies regarding the amount of screen time young people have today and the negative consequences of too much screen time.

The amount of screen time goes up geometrically if kids are in their own rooms or in a hidden place with a computer. Well, likewise, their exposure to predatory activity or pornographic type activity goes up geometrically when computers are in a hidden place. So the number one thing is have computers in a public place. Number two, supervise the Internet activity of children, and third is limit that activity. Kids still need to get out and play.

So push them out the door and let them go out and play. Computers are marvelous tools. They’re super in our modern society for communication, for education, but sometimes enough is enough.

Cindy: Yeah, I agree. Tremendous insights.

David: Thanks for having me.

Cindy: Thanks so much, David. This is Cindy Speaker for State Law TV.

I would like to take time to thank the staff at Daggett Shuler Attorneys at Law. To Megan Youngblood for helping me get my disability started; thank you so much for everything!

Olivia Winston