Social Media Sting – Keeping Students Safe

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Dr. Alisa Agozzino is an assistant professor of public relations at Ohio Northern University. Dr. AgozzAlisa Agozzino 1ino’s main research interest lies in social media tools within the public relations field. Her current research agenda examines how social media impacts different industries. From nonprofit, to admissions offices, to public relations professionals, Dr. Agozzino is exploring how those using social media tools are doing so to effectively reach their target audiences in order to build and maintain mutually beneficial relationships.

With permission of three teenage girl’s parents, Coby Persin conducted a social experiment using Facebook. He created a fake profile and began chatting with underage girls. In all three cases, the girls agreed to meet with Persin, whether it be at a park or at their home. This video is a chilling representation of the dangers of social media. Dr. Agozzino expresses her views of the video below.

Like every mother, I want to wrap my children in bubble wrap and protect them from every evil that will come their way. 

Unfortunately, reality hits and you realize that’s only possible in sitcoms that are choreographed. Even with all the preparation, warnings and begging, there will be moments when they slip out of my sight and make their own decisions.  It’s all part of growing up, right?

This video tells the story well. Social media can be used for good or evil.  It’s one of our favorite things to use when we are posting pictures of our children’s soccer games or messaging friends we don’t get to see as often as we would like. But like so many good things, evil finds a way to tarnish when given the opportunity.

From cyberbullying to sexual predators, social media has found its share of evil. It seems even with all the warnings and education on these subjects, children are still susceptible to falling into the trap. This video is an excellent example. You can hear the confidence in the parents’ testimony as they speak to how their child has been lectured and would know better than to respond to the social media call to meet in person.  

This confidence quickly turns to sheer terror as they watch their princesses plot to meet the fake profile predator at a park or at their home. When the parents confront their daughters, most of the girls break down in tears, knowing what they did is wrong. Yet they still did it, and had it been a real sexual predator, the results could have been much more frightful.

So what can be done? Should we set up these sting traps and see if they go through with it? Who has time for that? How much education is being done in our school systems to warn our children?  

I’m a firm believer our schools can’t be responsible for all the education. At-home education needs to take place as well. The world of social media can be a wonderful tool if used for good. If your child’s account were an organization it would be carefully monitored and analyzed daily to know exactly what type of relationships are being formed. Why don’t we take that same approach with our personal accounts? I guarantee the time spent doing so would be well worth it.  

So instead of coming up with bubblewrap safe clothing, I can assure you I’ll spend my time educating and monitoring my children’s social media accounts. I hope you too will take the time to explain the good and evils of social media. Just because there are some bad eggs, don’t throw out the entire dozen. Instead learn how to identify those who are not using the tool to build meaningful relationships and eliminate the evil. This way we can go back to posting our adorable pictures and catching up with old pals.

The dangers of social media can affect not only your home-life, but also put your business at risk. Learn more about social media risk by downloading our briefs (Creating an Intelligence Network and The Virtual Investigation) or by contacting us.

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