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Speaker to EGF students: "think before you post"

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EAST GRAND FORKS, MN (WDAZ-TV) - Local administrators call it a "big problem.” It's not grades or attendance, it's social media.

High schoolers are using a whole list of social media including Instagram, Snapchat, and even Tinder.

The problem is so severe East Grand Forks schools brought in a national speaker, reaching out to students with the message: think before you post.

Jerry Ackerman founded the "I Will Defend" organization. He says he wants to challenge students on the wisdom of what they're posting and let them know that what they do online matters.

Jerry Ackerman, motivational speaker: “Some of the problems are the fact that students are willing to sacrifice privacy for popularity.”

Kimmy Fenton, East Grand Forks senior: “People probably like take stuff in wrong ways, but some people don't think about what they say either and they just post it and they don't understand how it follows them to like college and when they're adults.”

Ackerman says 86% of colleges check online profiles when reviewing applications of prospective students.

Ackerman: “What they're doing today on social media is going to translate into what their future's like - colleges are checking.”

His message: think twice and push the button once. He wants students to understand that every picture, status, and comment they post, they can never get back. Use what he calls the "grandmother test.”

Ackerman: “If you would not be willing to show your grandma what you're just about to post for fear that she might fall over and die of embarrassment, maybe that's not the great thing to post.”

Ackerman says phones are at the center of bullying. And these days, it doesn't stop when you leave school. He says the peak hours for cyber-bullying are between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m.

Ackerman: “I think it's a little worse today than it was when you and I were growing up because of social media being a part of their life and so really some of the issues today are just heightened by the use of technology that we have that kind of highlights things and make them even maybe bigger deal than they are just because so many people know about it so quickly.”

Along with thinking before you post, Ackerman encourages students to put the phone down and have more conversations face to face.

Gunnar Welsh, EGF senior: “I think that just like little choice that you make throughout the day can make a difference in somebody's day.”

The speaker put on another presentation specifically for parents which touched on apps you need to know about, rules you should have for technology, and what you should be modeling for your child.

A link with more of Jerry Ackerman's resources for parents can be found here.