Farmington Hills police to host internet safety seminar

By: Jonathan Shead | Farmington Press | Published June 19, 2019

Advertisement

FARMINGTON HILLS — An increasing number of teens are using the fast-changing internet more than ever, which is why the Farmington Hills Police Department’s Crime Prevention Team plans to host an internet safety seminar June 26.

The seminar will be held at 6:30 p.m. in the City Council chambers of Farmington Hills City Hall, 31555 W. 11 Mile Road.

The seminar, which is only for adults 18 and older — no children — will focus on educating parents and residents in general about the wide variety of apps their children are using, the potential dangers, and how families can be proactive in guarding their children against harm.

“We’re going to give parents some tips on some things they can do, such as parental control,” said Heather Bowman, a crime prevention technician with the Police Department. “There are tons of programs and applications out there they may not be aware of, some of which are free. We’re also going to talk about geofencing — setting GPS points for knowing where your kids are located and making sure they’re staying within the boundaries of the areas parents may require.”

Bowman said the seminar will discuss in depth all of the popular applications — Twitter, Snapchat, and Instagram — their children might be using and others that parents might not know about. She said there are deceptive apps in the marketplace that look like one thing, but allow users to do something entirely different beyond the surface.

Bowman said she saw a need for this seminar after talking with youth in the community and gathering their feedback from polls and surveys on their online and social media use, which seemed to trend with what’s going on nationwide.

According to a Pew internet study, 45% of teens ages 12-17 reported using the internet on a near-constant basis, up from 24% in 2015. Another 9 in 10 teens surveyed said they’re online several times a day.

The study found that while 31% of teens reported their online use to have a positive effect on them, 24% believed their internet use had negative effects; 45% felt there was a neutral effect from their usage.

“The internet is very fast moving. It’s changing. Every single day these applications are popping up, and just when you figure out one of them, there’s 10 more,” Bowman said. “We felt here at crime prevention that it might be beneficial to our citizens to have more detailed information on the dangers of using apps and the internet for kids.

“We really strongly feel parents should closely monitor their children’s social media. They should know which apps they’re on, and they should themselves be familiar with those apps before allowing their children to download them,” she added.

Bowman encouraged any resident to come to the seminar, whether they have kids or not, because she thinks they can benefit from it.

“Everyone who uses applications, or any social media, should be coming to this, whether they have children or not, especially because everybody knows a child,” she said. “It takes a village sometimes to protect our children, so we want to educate all our citizens so maybe their nieces and nephews or their neighbor’s children are protected.”

Light refreshments will be served at the seminar. For more information, contact the Farmington Hills Police Department Crime Prevention Team at (248) 871-2750 or at crimeprevention@fhgov.com.

Advertisement