It's possible for kids to get in plenty of trouble online, and that's why the state's largest school district is being proactive about keeping kids safe while they search the web by teaching Internet etiquette, or "netiquette."
What began at a middle school in the Anoka-Hennepin School District has grown to a forum for everyone from preschoolers to teen students and their parents. On Tuesday night, all were welcome at an Internet Safety informational meeting.
"It's different from when you and I grew up and you can go home and get away from that bullying behavior," said Greg Blodgett, principal of Roosevelt Middle School. "Now, it happens in their own home. It's at school and also in their own homes."
Parents got tips on how to protect their children from online predators as well as how to protect students from making big social media mistakes.
"As a parent, it's very scary that he could be doing things online that I wouldn't be aware of," Becky Marcoux said.
Marcoux and her 7th-grader came to learn a lesson about netiquette, and the opportunity is available to all parents and students in the district-- especially now that students are allowed to use iPhones, iPads and other e-readers.
The tablet and cellular tools have only been allowed in the past two years, but that's why Technology Director William Powell is so intent on arming everyone with tips to preserve an online reputation while guarding against online predators and bullies.
"What type of information are you creating?" he asked. "If I were able to go out and Google you, what would I learn about you? If your sharing settings are wide open, I'm going to be able to learn a lot about you."
Since so many parents are working to set ground rules on how their child can access the Internet, many of the meetings also focus on establishing parameters.
"When and where are you online? When and where are you charging that device?" Powell asked. "Are we charging them in a location so you're not on that device half the night?"
The school district is also sending out electronic newsletters to create a common conversation among students, but the main message of netiquette is to remember that online activity can serve as a personal reflection of character -- and it's best to refrain from typing anything that couldn't be said face-to-face.