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Detroit Lakes Rotary clubs to host free internet safety seminar this Monday at DLHS

Detroit Lakes' Breakfast and Noon Rotary clubs are joining forces this Monday, Nov. 29, to present a free public information seminar on cyber safety and digital citizenship. Anyone from grade 6 on up to adult age is invited to attend the 7 p.m. event, which will be held in Detroit Lakes High School's brand new commons area.

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Cyber bullying is just one of the issues that retired Detroit Lakes High School media specialist Kent Mollberg will be discussing in a free public seminar on Internet safety set for this Monday, Nov. 29 at 7 p.m. in the DLHS commons. The seminar is co-hosted by Detroit Lakes' Breakfast and Noon Rotary clubs. (Shutterstock photo)
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Parents, are you ever concerned that your children, or even you, might be making poor choices when it comes to modern technology? Do you worry whether your children are being safe while using their cell phones, tablets and home computers to navigate social media, streaming services, video games and other online content?

If you are interested in learning how to "Be Smart on the Internet," Detroit Lakes' Breakfast and Noon Rotary clubs have teamed up to present a free public information seminar on cyber safety and digital citizenship this Monday, Nov. 29.

Anyone from grade 6 on up to adult age is invited to attend the 7 p.m. event, which will be held in Detroit Lakes High School's brand new commons area. Teachers can even earn continuing education credit for doing so, according to Kent Mollberg, who will be presenting the seminar.

Mollberg, a retired teacher and media specialist who worked at Detroit Lakes Public Schools for close to 30 years, and holds a master's degree in information technology, says that he developed this seminar "after seeing firsthand some of the Internet dangers that students confront on a daily basis."

"I witnessed some severe cyber bullying and some identity theft that kids were using against each other," he explained in a Tuesday interview.

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Kent Mollberg spoke to teens and parents about social networking, cell phones and cyber safety at a 2010 event in Detroit Lakes. (Tribune file photo)

A member of Detroit Lakes' Breakfast Rotary Club, Mollberg said that he has presented seminars on Internet safety at more than 200 schools and professional conferences, to audiences estimated at over 50,000 people. He said the two local Rotary clubs were looking to present a joint event when they approached him about it.

"The Detroit Lakes Breakfast and Noon Clubs are sponsoring this event to support educating not only the youth in our community, but everyone who may be vulnerable to cyber security risks," said Travis Stone, president of the Noon Rotary Club. "This event supports the driving principals behind Rotary, which focus on the truth, on being beneficial to all, and aim to build goodwill and better friendships."

Stone also noted that the seminar should be of particular interest to members of Detroit Lakes' Interact Club, who are considered “junior” Rotarians.

"Interactors are the youth in our community who look to better their community with their good deeds and volunteer spirit," he said. "This event helps show Interact members one area in which they are vulnerable and how to be safe in a world that is evolving to include more and more digital forums of communication and connectivity."

Mollberg said that his seminar "will cover everything you can imagine" — from cyber bullying and stalking to sexting, technology addiction and identity theft.

"I use the media to teach media safety skills," he added. "The Internet is the new Wild Wild West. Nobody is in charge.

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"Kids believe social networking is an extension of their lives that 'lives' outside of their bodies. Technology now belongs to teenagers. When your cell phone is not working what do you do? You hand it to your son or daughter and say, 'What’s wrong with it?' and they know!"

Mollberg said that when he was attending school as a child, the leading school discipline problems were "talking (in class), chewing gum, making noise, running in the hall, getting out of place in line, wearing improper clothing and not using the wastebasket."

Today's leading school discipline problems, by contrast, are "drugs and alcohol, sexual harassment, robbery and assault, social networking, cyberbullying and school shootings."

"Throw a pandemic on top of that and schools today look nothing like the schools we attended when we were young," he said. "Also, today’s students are the first generation that cannot trust everything they read and hear."

Mollberg also noted that there are over 780,000 registered sexual predators in the United States, and an estimated 100,000 of those have been "lost in the system" — i.e., law enforcement does not know where they are.

"Yet one of six teenagers is willing to meet someone they’ve only talked to online," he said. "Predators are real and they are out there looking for our kids."

Mollberg noted that the most common poor choices kids make in a school setting that land them in trouble include:

  • Taking pictures in school bathrooms or locker rooms;
  • Threatening harm to the school or other students;
  • "Liking" a shooting incident on social media, or posting to internet "hate groups."

"Sharing an image of a teacher or administrator is another big mistake," he said, "but by far the most common mistake is inappropriate searches using school technology."
And it's not just kids that can get in trouble, he added.

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"Every single time you touch your phone or your device you are being tracked by someone," said Mollberg. "They are tracking every move you make. Also, your online actions have real world consequences. Once you post something online, you can’t take it back. What you post could have a bigger audience than you think."

Online identity theft is another growing concern.

"If you use the web for commerce, there is a very good chance you will be a target," Mollberg said. "Rarely does anyone go to jail for internet theft as most thieves are from other countries and are never prosecuted, much less even looked for."

Cyber bullying is another issue that can affect both kids and adults.

"We are much more willing to write something in a text or an email that we would never say in person," Mollberg said. "Texts and emails are forwarded constantly. Spoken conversations are not. When you write something down it is permanent and can be used against you."

Mollberg added that while it is free and open to the public, Monday's seminar is geared toward those of middle school age and above, as some of the topics covered "aren't appropriate for younger children." He also noted that any public school teachers and other educators who are interested in attending can also receive continuing education credit for doing so.

If you go

What: "Be Smart on the Internet" seminar

When: Monday, Nov. 29, 7 p.m.

Where: Detroit Lakes High School commons, 1301 Roosevelt Ave.

Who: Seminar is free and open to anyone of middle school age and older; some topics covered are inappropriate for younger children. Presented by retired Detroit Lakes High School media specialist Kent Mollberg and co-hosted by the Detroit Lakes Breakfast and Noon Rotary clubs. Teachers can receive continuing education credit for attending.

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