By Asher U., 7th Grade, Krieger Schechter Day School of Chizuk Amuno Congregation

Students at Krieger Schechter Day School of Chizuk Amuno Congregation have learned an important lesson: that online information remains permanent even if it is deleted. Richard Guerry, the founder of IROC2 (Institute for Responsible Online and Cellphone Communication), addressed students, parents, and teachers recently to educate young online users on how quickly information can become public and permanent. 

As he travels the country for speaking engagements, Guerry inspires children and teens, showing the benefits to technology when used responsibly instead of lecturing them about all the terrifying scenarios that can happen as a result of technology use. He also explains how youngsters of the 20th and 21st centuries were involuntarily thrust into the role of the guinea pigs; they were given no choice but to learn the rules of use for technological devices, just like the cavemen had to learn the rules of fire use.

Rachel L., a sixth-grader at KSDS, feels that Guerry came across as a real expert. Guerry has written three books: “Public and Permanent: The Golden Rule of the 21st Century,” “Creating a Mindset that Our Digital Actions Are Public and Permanent,” and “Cyman Learns Cyber Smarts and Danger.” According to Rachel, he encouraged the community to be more careful with technology.

Guerry explained how easy it is to find someone’s personal information online. Websites ask people to sign up for services and proceed to sell one’s name, email address, and other personal information. Games such as Slither, Mope, and Surviv are easily accessible and commonly used by children. These sites are free for use and available on any browser. However, the sites ask users to sign up to save their data. Rachel says she hung on to those words, later remarking how scary it is that personal data is so easily accessible online. 

KSDS seventh-grader Julia L. thinks that Guerry explained technology differently than other presenters she’s heard because he showed both sides of the issue. Guerry worked as an interactive marketing executive, so he knows how to spot industry tricks and how to avoid them. For example, he told the KSDS students about the algorithms that track them online. These algorithms track what users do on a certain application and come up with recommendations for what to watch next or what ad to show. Though this can be helpful from time to time, the company is tracking people’s every digital move. 

There are different ways people can use technology. Some project their entire lives on their social media accounts. Others remain private and more cautious. Kristen Wavle, the middle school counselor at KSDS, says she is more of a “chicken little” when it comes to technology. She thinks everyone should be more cautious online. “Richard Guerry is not only very good at being entertaining, but he brings a strong and well-reinforced point,” she says.

Robyn Blum, KSDS Middle School Head, believes that technology can bring out the good in people if they use technology the right way. According to Blum, digital technology “can do wonderful and amazing things. At the same time, it is an enormously powerful tool that if used by the wrong person or in the wrong way, can cause immense damage.”

Guerry helps people recognize the dangers of the digital world. This new realm cannot be taken lightly. It is full of power that people can harness and abuse, but it is also a new frontier that can showcase people’s inner awesomeness. The key is finding the right balance. Guerry hopes to spread the message to students by educating them on using technology correctly.

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