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Experts urge parents to monitor kids' internet use after Valley schools receive online threats

11 months 2 weeks 4 days ago Thursday, December 16 2021 Dec 16, 2021 December 16, 2021 8:04 PM December 16, 2021 in News - Local

Experts are urging parents to keep a close eye on their children's social media activity following online threats made to several Valley schools. 

On Monday, Rising Scholars Academy in San Benito was temporarily put on lockdown after a threat was made via social media.

Dr. James Whittenberg, a counselor at Heartfelt Minds Counseling, says it's common for children and adolescents to engage in impulsive behavior online. 

"Children finding [it] easier to say something when they're behind the screen and somewhat anonymous," Whittenberg said. "Whereas they might not say such things face-to-face."

RELATED: Schools step up security in response to threats on TikTok

Whittenberg says parents should have more conversations with their children to discourage them from making online threats, mainly because even fake threats can have consequences, like fines or jail time. 

"We need to help our children and our students to see that this type of behavior is inappropriate," Whittenberg said. "There [are] settings in which you can't use such language. You can't use language such as shooting up a school."

More than 80% of teenagers have access to social media sites like Instagram, TikTok, and Facebook, according to Dr. Alcides Amador, child & adolescent psychiatrist at UTRGV School of Medicine. 

Amador says that while social media isn't all bad, it can be dangerous. 

"It may increase depression and anxiety because it may make the child or teenager feel a little bit isolated," Amador said. "And may give them an altered perspective of the world."

Experts suggest the online threats could be from children or teens that want somebody to reach out to them or for attention. Amador says parents should try their best to limit social media use and keep a close eye on what their kids are posting. 

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