Old Rochester students urged to 'be thoughtful' online

Feb 2, 2018

It’s no secret that technology can lead to trouble. However as technology, and the way its used, has evolved, the dangers have changed.

Technology expert and former intelligence analyst for the Massachusetts State Police Katie Greer spent Friday at Old Rochester Regional High School, speaking to students in grades 6-12 about how to stay safe online.

Greer opened the presentation using Houston Texans football player JJ Watt as an example for one of the best ways to use social media (sorry Pats fans!). Watt raised millions of dollars for hurricane victims during Hurricane Harvey just using social media.

“It’s our responsibility to use these tools to make the world better than how we found it,” Greer said.

Part of Greer’s preparation before speaking at a school is searching posts on Instagram. For example, she typed in “Old Rochester Regional” and spent three minutes the night before looking at the posts that popped up – photos from football games, family vacation photos, pictures of friends with red plastic cups (generally associated with drinking alcohol).

Anyone who had ever tagged the school, hashtagged the school or had the name in their bio showed up in the search.

“Think about what I can learn from this information,” Greer said. “I’m not saying don’t post it, but be careful. Use your privacy settings.”

Greer explained that free social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat make their money by collecting and selling users’ information to third parties.

“You have to know and acknowledge that this data and information is being collected,” she said.

One way to protect yourself from this, Greer said, is to go into your phone settings and turn the location services off for all apps except ones that require GPS to function, such as Maps.

Ultimately, Greer wanted to encourage students to be mindful of their social media usage.

“Take steps to try to be more thoughtful about technology,” she said.

After speaking with students all day at ORR, Greer will also speak to ORR and Tabor Academy families at Tabor on Friday night. She will then spend Saturday with Tabor students.

“This is the first event I can think of that it was a collaborative effort,” Rochester Memorial School Assistant Principal Charlie West said of Tabor and ORR.

The event came about when Tabor Dean of Students Melissa Bride reached out to West asking if he’d heard of Greer, and the two of them deciding to collaborate.

For more on Greer, visit www.klgreer.com.