Judge warns Gehlen students of social media dangers - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

Judge warns Gehlen students of social media dangers


LE MARS, Iowa (KTIV) -- Some see it as an addiction. Something as deadly as drugs or alcohol. Teens and texting continues to be a growing concern.

These days, students do more with their phones than just "keep in touch."

A provocative picture. A racy text message. We've told you before about the dangers of "sexting."

On Tuesday, students at Le Mars Gehlen Catholic High School learned more about it from District Court Judge Jeffrey Neary.

He talked about cyber bullying and the extreme cases that have led to suicide.

Then, he asked them to consider their own use of social media.

Students were surprised to learn that in many instances, their actions could be considered a crime and could lead to jail time.

"You think, 'I'm personally 17, I'm a juvenile, I can't be an adult.' Well, I can be. So, if I do something wrong, I can be tried in adult court," said Matt Klein, Le Mars Gehlen Senior.

Gehlen's administration hopes the message rang loud and clear with students.

There's growing concern at the school of students' use of cell phones and social media.

Superintendent Jeff Alesch said, "Sometimes I don't think the kids realize that when they send a message or they receive messages, they think that once they delete it that's gone. But, it's not." 

"Think about how what they're thinking about doing is going to impact the person receiving the information. Whoever that's targeted at, if it's bullying, or passing on a picture, or whatever, I want them to think about putting themselves in that person's shoes," said Hon. Jeffrey Neary, District Court Judge.

Judge Neary says parents need to take an active role in their student's computer usage, use those parental controls, and limit access and the amount of time spent on certain sites.

Even the most popular social sites can be misused. And, it's an important lesson for adults too.

Neary says Facebook activities are starting to show up in child custody cases.

Not to mention the fact that many companies are using the site as a way to sift through potential job candidates.

Online Reporter: Kristen Johnson

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