Free seminar for parents to address how to keep kids safe online

With summer break around the corner, which most likely means more screen time for kids, a local website company is hosting a free seminar for parents geared to give them tips on how to keep their kids safe online.
Jeff DeHaven is the president and CEO of Digital Mitten.
Digital Mitten is hosting the parent seminar at Bay City Western High School in Auburn on Tuesday, May 17th, at 6:30 p.m. titled “Keeping Kids Safe Online.” Two speakers with backgrounds in social media, education, and communications are set to give audience members the necessary tools. The event is free and open to the public.

Digital Mitten President and CEO, Jeff DeHaven, says prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, his company would host these types of events a couple of times per year but he had to put them aside. He’s pleased to offer an event again, and pick up where they left off.

DeHaven says kids have had a lot more screen time during the past couple of years and during the pandemic, especially given the isolation and quarantines. He felt he needed to provide this type of seminar because in speaking with others around the area, he learned the information on how to keep kids safe while being online has become “more of a need.”  DeHaven adds, “Students face peer pressure and have a lot more time on their hands during the summer. Whether they are going to a friend's house, or to the mall, we want to make sure parents have the information they need. Technology also changes so quickly, and there are more predators online.”

DeHaven says the 90-minute seminar is for anyone who works or is around kids" parents, daycare workers, guardians, teachers and grandparents, “We want to make sure we put those tools into place before summer break. You see a lot of kids hanging out in their rooms for hours. What are they doing? Who are they talking to? What’s out there?”

The information on how to keep kids safe while online has become “more of a need.”
DeHaven says that data has shown that during the pandemic, kids became more isolated, with increases in anxiety, depression and suicide rates. Sometimes kids who are alone and hurting, reach out to unhealthy options or solutions, download unfamiliar apps or find someone online who doesn't have ethical thoughts, ideas or good intentions.  DeHaven says, “No parent wants to be the bad guy. We will offer avenues and resources on how to fill in those gaps.” 

The speakers will include Nikki Sunstrum and Eric Hultgren. According to their bios, Sunstrum is an internationally known public speaker and advocate of strategic online communications. She developed innovative solutions to advance the University of Michigan’s over 200 year old legacy of impact and has led the social communication team and the strategic oversight of the President’s Public Engagement Impact Initiative and the university’s social integrity project. She is the mother of six children.

Hultgren is the director of brand strategy and social media for MLive and a nationally recognized podcaster. He's also a former television and radio broadcaster who specializes in storytelling for brands. He served as a adjunct professor at Aquinas College, and now serves as a digital mentor at Western Michigan University. He's the father of two. The seminar is free and open to the public. Registration is not required.

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Read more articles by Erika M. Hirschman.

A veteran freelance writer and former reporter with The Midland Daily News, Erika has covered a wide array of topics in and around Midland and Saginaw counties. She’s an award winning reporter, and holds a journalism degree from the University of Detroit-Mercy/Marygrove College. When Erika is not writing, she enjoys dancing in her kitchen with her two dogs and family. She loves to read, cook, travel and go to concerts. She’s lived in Saginaw County for 26 years.