Middle school warns parents about Instagram

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. —  A Blue Valley School District middle school is warning parents Tuesday to watch what their kids are posting on a popular social media website because it said several students are posting very inappropriate pictures and comments.

Instagram is a quick and easy way to share your pictures online and see what people think about them.  The company said it hit 100 million users in February.  Those users include students at Overland Trail Middle School.

But the school principal, Phoebe Lewis, said in an email to parents, a few very concerning items have come through their office regarding pictures and comments on Instagram by students.

The email left parent Richard Napper reassured as to why his son doesn’t have an account.

“We researched it and I think for a lot of reasons that were in the email, I think, for the school was one reason we decided not to let him have it.  We were concerned about controls,” Napper said.

Lewis wrote in the email, “Students are posting racist and lewd pictures and an alarming number of students are liking them or commenting back with remarks that do not demonstrate good character.”  She goes on to write some of the students they came across are fantastic students.

Lewis could not be reached for comment, but Sue Denny, the Executive Director of School Administration, said her initial reaction was disappointment.

“We hold our students to high expectations in all aspects, and so when we have something that’s inappropriate that people share I think disappointing,” Denny said.

Denny said her second reaction is to use this as a lesson.  She said Lewis likely alerted parents before the weekend so they don’t forget to talk to their kids.  Parents told Fox 4 the school comes out with a newsletter every Friday and in the email Lewis wrote, “As educators and parents ourselves, we felt we could not wait until the Friday communication to make you aware.”

Lewis said she wants parents to talk about the pitfalls of these websites in the long run, and to monitor their children’s activities online.

The school has the backing of the parent teacher organization.   President Kristen Freeman said it’s no surprise the school sounding a warning.

“She is always proactive about sending information out quickly so that we have that information and can handle it as appropriate in our home,” Freeman said.

Freeman and other parents said they are happy with the communication the school gives.  They said other districts aren’t so lucky.

The district said parents can also visit The Blue Valley Cyber Citizen website to learn more about the evolving issues. You can visit that website here.

Follow me on Facebook: facebook.com/GiaVangFox4

email: gia.vang@wdaftv4.com

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