The Dickinson Press: Rep. Armstrong, Google teach Dickinson students about internet safety

April 29, 2019
In The News

Google spokespersons Lynette Barksdale and Jamie Hill teamed up with Rep. Kelly Armstrong on Friday to teach students at Dickinson Middle School about internet safety with an interactive presentation called Online Safety Roadshow: How to be Internet Awesome.

The presentation focused on five internet tips: share with care, don't fall for fake, secure your secrets, it's cool to be kind and when in doubt, talk it out. These tips covered how to create a secure password, the importance of checking settings on social media sites, how to avoid phishing scams and being kind in online interactions.

They showed the students video clips, had them participate in trivia by holding up paddles and had them play a game where they try to create the strongest password. Armstrong participated in the game as well.

"I just think this is a really interactive way for kids to participate, for them to really be included in the conversation and for them to have a little bit of fun doing it. Instead of just reading it online, having a couple people come out, listening to some music, playing with some paddles, we think it's a really cool interactive way for them to get engaged and understand the importance of being internet safe," Barksdale said.

Armstrong said he thinks the biggest takeaway from the presentation is that what you post online stays there.

"That the internet is forever—I think that is the most important takeaway from everything. You can do a thousand things right, but if you do one thing wrong, that's what people will remember. That's a horrible responsibility to put on a 12-year-old kid, but they have it and they also have the opportunity to utilize it for good," he said.

Armstrong said he has dealt with adults for whom social media has become an issue.

"I was a former state party chairman, so I can just tell you that 99% of the problems that I ever had with candidates dealt with social media posts," he said.

Hill said that they want to make sure that the students think before they share things with friends online because it can be seen by more people than they had intended. They demonstrated this by giving a student a silly picture of Hill. She told them then to check under their chairs. Some of the other students got the picture as well, though she had only handed it to one of them.

Armstrong was glad to come to Dickinson and interact with the students.

"Since we started this campaign, we go all over the state of North Dakota, but Dickinson is still home, so when I had the opportunity to do it here, it just makes it even better," he said. "My favorite thing to do as a congressman is to meet with constituents. My favorite constituents to meet with are high school and college-aged kids. We don't get a lot of middle school age kids ... so when I have the opportunity to get here and talk to them, I try to do that."

Armstrong said it also gives him an opportunity to show that congressman aren't so different from them.

"Just getting the opportunity to ... talk to kids and maybe let them know that their congressman is a normal human being who's going to go see the Avengers movie with his kid, is important," he said.