Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Dangerous Apps Parents Should Know About...

In my work in education I've been asked multiple times to give parents information related to keeping kids safe online. The discussion ALWAYS includes questions about social media and apps. I find that parents are afraid of how much more their kids know than they do about social media. 

I put together a short list of apps that parents need to know about to help keep their kids safe. No list will ever be complete or exhaustive, but these are some of the current big ones. Any app that allows strangers to connect with children and teens is a big concern. Also, any of the "hidden file" apps that allow users to hide photos, videos and other apps from parents or others are problematic when we are talking about young people. 

Here's a short list of current apps (but it is not definitive):

Remember, a lot of times, as soon as parents know about an app, kids have already moved on to something new. 

Ultimately, most of the apps your child or teen has on their phone are going to be fine. You need to have conversation(s) with them about using social media, how it can affect them later in life, not sharing intimate photos/videos, and to not share personal information. Keep up with what your child is using and keep the communication open between you. There will always be another app or site that could be harmful, but by talking with them openly about the dangers on the internet we can help them make better choices about their on-line activity.

The best things we can do are inform them of the dangers and help to build their understanding, confidence and trust. When you have these conversations, you need to let your child know that if they make a mistake or find themselves in a troubling situation your first concern is for their well-being. Let them know that they can confide in you about things that happen without risk of repercussion or discipline. Now, you can still address their mistake in a calm manner at a later time, but first we have to handle the immediate issue of making sure they are protected and safe.

Our response should never be “Well, you shouldn’t have been doing this and you wouldn’t have ended up here.” That does not help. Not even in a sarcastic or joking tone. They have to know from the very start our main priority is protecting them.  

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Bert Case - Man of a Million Stories

Bert Case​ died. I loved that guy. I was lucky enough to work with him when I worked at WLBT in Jackson for a few years (2002-2004). He was just awesome. Anytime I got to be his photographer (which was rare) he would tell the greatest stories. No matter where we went he had been there and knew a story about it: Floods, trains, Fordice, Elvis, and a million other awesome things. I could literally point to any town we passed and ask "Ever done a story there?" And the answer was always "Oh yes indeed. Back in 19..." Every time.

One afternoon I asked him why he always said his name as "Berrrt Case." He told me that when he was just starting out as a reporter a lady saw him in the grocery store. She asked him "Is your name 'Bird Cage'?" He said after that he tried to over annunciate it in a way so that people would know what he was saying.

He told me about when he met Elvis, about covering the 1979 flood (and a bunch of other floods), traveling across the country by train, the infamous Kirk Fordice "I'll whip your ass" incident (one of my favorites that I heard multiple times), and a ton of other stories.

One afternoon he and I were charged with doing a story about a new building opening downtown. The owners were having a press conference to reveal the name of the building and their "big new client" who would be taking up residence. Bert wanted to scoop everyone and announce it the day before.

We knew where the client was coming from but not who it was. We went to the building they were leaving and asked about it. Building manager said he couldn't say anything and Bert went with him to his office to try and convince him to. While they were gone a custodian walked by in the lobby. I asked her "Ma'am, there's a law firm that is moving out of this building. Do you happen to know which one?"

She instantly replied "Oh yes! That's (name of firm). They're up on the 3rd floor. You can see all the boxes and everything. They've been packing up all week."

I took the elevator up and got some footage of all the boxes through their glass front door with their name on it. When Bert came back he was all mad because he'd had no luck, and when I told him what I got he just cackled and shook my hand. "You're a real journalist now!"

We went back to the building to film his stand-up and dig around for more info on the name. He started talking to some landscapers who were putting the finishing touches around the sign (which didn't have the name on it yet). They gave him nothing again, but while they were talking I spotted a delivery guy sitting in his truck. I wandered over and slyly said "Hey man. You know what this building's called don't you?"

"I do, but I'd get in trouble if I told you."

"Nothing? Come on, man. Help me out."

"Well, if you go inside and down the main hall the second door on the right is where they are keeping the sign."

So I slipped inside and sure enough, right where he said was a big sign on the floor that read "City Center." I told Bert and he stood in front of the empty sign and landscapers to film a quick stand-up. He told me to watch the expressions on the guys' faces to confirm it.

"...and tomorrow they will unveil the name of the building behind me to be City Center." Both guys' heads instantly jerked up and they looked at each other with shocked expressions. Name confirmed. "Berrrrt Case, WLBT News, Jackson."

When we got back Bert slapped me on the back as he told the story to Dennis Smith our News Director and gave me all the credit. "This guy is good! You need to get me more guys like him to work with!" I just beamed. Probably my best day at WLBT.

Rest in Peace, Bert. I consider myself lucky to have been able to work with you.