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Friday, May 22, 2009

Ellsworth Middle and High School Talks

On Thursday, May 14th, I got to speak at Ellsworth High School. It was a long drive up, about 3 1/2 hours and thank goodness I had audiobooks on my iPod Touch. Stayed at a Holiday Inn (nice hotel) and my first talk was at 12:20 for the high school students. Like the other schools I've talked at, my alter ego on Facebook began asking students to be friends when I knew I'd be coming to the school. I asked 60 of them to be my friend. Only three asked who I was and two of those still added me as a friend (er, my alter ego). Out of the 60, all but one accepted me as a friend.

Once I was their friend, I had access to all the info and photos they posted there. This came as a shock to all of the students when I asked them how they thought they did. Of the 59 who did accept my alter ego as a friend:

60% were boys; 40% girls
40% listed the cell phone number - 75% of those were boys
7 boys also listed their home phone
65% listed their AIM screen name
64% list an email address (sometimes two)
3 boys listed their home address
6 boys and 1 girl listed where they work

For the most part, the photos were good - mostly about sports, plays at school, vacations, etc. I didn't really find much wrong with those.

It was when I went to Myspace that the photos part went downhill. I again looked at 60 profiles, some were names that had approved me as Facebook, but had public profiles on Myspace. You don't need to friend anyone to see public profiles on Myspace. The results:

60 profiles were looked at
33% were boys
67% were girls
Just over half marked their profiles private
27% were boys
73% were girls
But 11 listed their first and last name as their profile name or in their profile
And half of those were Private Profiles

The photos? A lot of underage drinking, giving the finger and posing with guns (the guns may or may not have been real, but come on, DON'T be posting things like that, even in "fun")

To say the students were shocked was an understatement. Then when I got into sexting (sending semi-nude or nude photos via cell phone), they were even more shocked when they realized it's considered child porn (after all, they are all under 18) and they could be jailed and have a criminal record for the rest of their lives.

I had several students come up afterward telling me they thought it was going to be another boring, ho-hum presentation, but I brought it home to them by focusing on their school. Which is why I do what I do best.

Next was the middle school students and they were almost as good. Although I didn't show the photos (which I am going to do from now on - these kids are getting more tech-savvy and smartass each day), I think they got the point.

That night, I talked with parents. Some kids showed up with their parents, which was a first. A good recount of that is on the local newspaper web site - EHS Students Learn About Internet Safety.

The parents listened intently and were a good audience, but the best response I got was from April, who booked me to speak. She told me that I was just as advertised and she was very happy with me.

Yay!!

The bad thing was that the F keys on my little Sony Vaio laptop died on me, so I had to borrow a school laptop to do my presentations. Good thing I had a USB flash drive. I ended up doing some research at Barnes & Noble and found a new small "Netbook" that fits my needs. I don't need a CD/DVD drive since I use it just for traveling, hooking up to a LCD projector for my PowerPoint presentations and to check email, etc. So I ended up with a sweet new computer - an ASUS Eee PC Model 1000HEB. It's got a 160 gig hard drive, up to 7 hours battery life, Windows XP (I hate Vista), a full size keyboard and it weighs just 3 pounds. I love it!

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