Last week, Cohoes Middle School and Cohoes High School welcomed cyber safety expert Tom Roidl who spoke to students and parents about the dangers lurking online.
Mr. Roidl, a former investigator with the NYS Police Computer Crime Unit, addressed students in grades 6-12 at multiple age-appropriate assemblies throughout the day. Cyberbullying, inappropriate texting, social media and internet fraud were among the topics discussed. Mr. Roidl also played videos that showed kids in specific scenarios, such as cyberbullying, to drive home points to students.
Students were reminded that every app and website they visit is collected and followed and that anything they share can be viewed by millions, even if they think they deleted it. “Nothing is ever deleted,” he reminded the crowd.
Just like teaching your children how to safely cross a street or how to drive, teaching kids about internet safety is crucial today.
“The internet is a continually growing part of our lives and kids need instruction as to what is safe, legal and best practice online,” said Mr. Roidl.
During the evening, a similar presentation was offered for parents.
Raychel Marcil, director of Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS) for the district, said these presentations are important to teach kids how to be good digital citizens. The assemblies rounded out digital citizenship lessons the students had earlier in the month.
“Parents need to be aware of the dangers and know how to protect and educate their children about online safety,” said Mrs. Marcil. “If we don’t understand the technology and the apps they are using it becomes really hard for us to help them navigate the online world. There are real consequences that can occur if our students are not careful about the sites they visit and apps they use.”
Since retiring from the NYS police, Mr. Roidl has made it his mission to use his knowledge of cyber crime to educate people. He has been professionally speaking since 2016 and has presented to over 10,000 people.
“Too many online opportunists await those without knowledge, and make them into victims using the internet,” he said. “It is my mission to educate as many as possible, so that more people can remain safe, and use the internet as the beneficial tool that it can be.”