Special Report: Growing up online

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - The current generation of kids has never lived without the internet. While it offers education and entertainment, it can also create dangers.

It's "BYOT," Bring your own Technology Day, in Kim Goodson's high school class. "Most of them have smart phones and basically a smart phone is a computer and since we don't have enough computers for all the kids why not let them use their smart phones for research," Goodson says.

She knows the internet has changed education. "When we stumble across something in class, and we don't know what it means, then we can say 'Google' it."

Nowadays, kids are connected online, and social networking sites are a part of everyday life.

Lee County High School Principal Kevin Dowling says the school's facebook profile, with 4,500 friends, is a great way to communicate. "One of my favorite posts during a game is TDLC, which is touchdown Lee County," he said.

Dowling says as a principal, and father, it's important to be connected with what kids are doing, and these days that's twitter and Instagram. "We have to help them become responsible adults and part of that is learning responsibility and restraint. And what better way then try to show them what responsible use is."

Karen Philips has three boys who love playing XBOX Live, but she's warned them, never to give out personal information. "You just have to assume that these are strangers, and you have to be careful with your children," she said.

She has parental settings on her boy's XBOX, and their IPAD and home computer. She also has them turn in all mobile devices at the end of the night. "I just swipe it and check it and make sure everything looks okay."

Her oldest son Graham likes Instagram, but that doesn't keep him indoors. "It's not a constant thing, but I definitely use it." Adrian Hill started taking with her son about online safety and cyber bullying when he was just in kindergarten.

"You post a picture about someone that you think is funny, and it might be funny in the moment, but you don't know how your friend's going to perceive it, especially if its of them."

Cyber bullying is a growing concern among parents and its gained national attention, most recently after a Florida girl committed suicide when she was bullied online by her classmates. Rebecca Sedrick was just 12 years old when she died after jumping from a tower at an abandoned cement plant near her home.

'Pause before you Post' is a National Campaign that Lee Principal Dowling makes sure kids know about. He says while social networking is great, it can also cause problems. Dowling:"Sometimes we have to deal with it because the students come, and they see each other, and now they want to continue the discussion while at school."

School discussions that Kim Goodson takes part in, because she knows the internet is now a way of life "We've just had to embrace it." Because today's kids and future generations are growing up on line.

Although many states, including Georgia, have laws against cyber bullying, most don't cover incidents that occur off school campuses.

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