On March 29 Scott Driscoll, President of Internet Safety Concepts, presented to students and staff at Northwest Catholic High School in West Hartford.
Driscoll’s lecture “Empowering Smart Online Choices” gave the audience much to consider. Although it may seem Northwest Catholic’s young digital natives have been sufficiently warned of dangers online, the truth is adolescents today remain as vulnerable as ever. The conversation about online safety is still in its infancy, and advocates for internet safety like Scott Driscoll are finding no shortage of issues to confront and repair.
Driscoll explained to the students that several years ago as a law enforcement officer, he was assigned to work with the FBI in New Haven. He admitted he went reluctantly and was leery of his new position — to impersonate a 13 year old girl online in an effort to find predators. After five years tackling this difficult assignment, Driscoll came to understand that education is the key to prevention. Today he is making educating young people about smart online choices his life’s work.
Driscoll kept the conversation with Northwest Catholic’s audience honest and relevant, reading the students’ minds with questions such as, “Do we really need this as high school students?’” The answer is “Yes.” Driscoll assured them students are still getting into trouble online, and their digital footprint is following them. Without belaboring horror stories of inappropriate photos reappearing a decade later, Driscoll made sure his audience understood the danger of making impulsive decisions online. He referenced harmful, anonymous social media sites, such as Whisper, Yik Yak, and After School, even as he conceded that attractive, new sites like Snapchat and Vine can be fun. Driscoll explained how easy it is to lose control online, and he gave pointed advice on how to maintain or regain control once it has slipped away. With anecdotes, both common and extreme, Driscoll painted a picture that every listener could imagine.
Driscoll’s golden nugget of advice? Before you post anything, ask yourself is it S.A.F.E. — are you Sure? is it Appropriate? and is it For Everyone? Driscoll encouraged the students to think about whether or not they’d want a college scholarship committee to see the message, or their mother, or their girlfriend’s father, which, of course, had the teens chuckling, even as they understood the weight of his message.
To learn more about Internet Safety Concepts and how you can have Officer Scott Driscoll speak to your students, visit internetsafetyconcepts.com. To learn more about Northwest Catholic and its commitment to educating the whole child, visit northwestcatholic.org.