PIEDMONT -- Corpus Christi School offered a presentation recently targeting the timely and necessary topics of Internet safety, cyberbullying, trolling, sexting and other potential dangers of social media for the middle school population.

Led by local Alameda County deputy district attorneys Casey Bates and Teresa Drenick, a parent seminar was held May 21 that focused on the widespread use and abuse of social media by adolescents, followed by a separate middle school presentation to provide tools to help sixth- through eighth-graders use their best judgment on the web.

"The primary message for adolescents was: 'Think before you post,' " Bates said. "Teens need to learn how to pause and decide whether or not what they are about to post is appropriate and safe."

The impulsive mind of a teen coupled with the immediate transmittal of words and pictures can be disastrous from a safety standpoint. Once the staggering numbers of posts are released on the Internet, all control and privacy are lost.

According to social media press centers, 40 million images per day are transmitted via Instagram, 150-plus million images per day are posted on Snapchat, and 10,000 comments per second are sent across the Internet at warp speed. More than half of the 80 parents attending were not aware of how Snapchat worked and few had heard of the newest applications such as Askfm or Chatroulette.

"It's vital for parents to know the latest social media trends and what their kids are doing on the Internet," Bates said. "With one in five kids being approached by predators and almost 50 percent being bullied in some way, parental awareness is the first step in preventing problems of both victimization and victimizing."

The legal ramifications of online harassing, threatening, and impersonating were also discussed. Corpus Christi Principal Katie Murphy plans to offer these presentations every year.

"Social media presents serious challenges for our children," Murphy said. "We can only keep them safe if we work together as a community to understand those challenges."

-- Corpus Christi School