School district wants parents to pledge to keep kids off social media until 13

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ENGLISHTOWN -

A Monmouth County school district wants parents to pledge to keep their children off social media websites and apps until they are at least 13 years old.

Manalapan-Englishtown School District Assistant Director of Student Services Cindy Cimino developed the back-to-school program following a social media threat last year made to fourth- and fifth-grade girls. It caused a districtwide lockdown.

Cimino also points to last week’s arrests of 24 potential and alleged sexual predators who used social media to reach out to underage children. She says that since technology moves so quickly and there is so much information on the internet, children may not be ready to deal with such adult situations.

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“You need to ask yourself, are you prepared to have the conversation with a child about sexual predators, sexting, pornography? Because if you're not, then your kids are not developmentally ready to be on those websites,” she says.

Kim Hayes teaches second grade at the Milford Brook Elementary School. She is also the mother of three and signed the pledge to keep her children off social media for a time.

“You feel like you're in this race with them of trying to compete, and there’s something that my son is showing me, different things, that I never knew were there,” Hayes says.

Cimino says that she hopes her program is picked up and adopted by other school districts in the state because she wants parents to remain aware as technology advances. She says that her PowerPoint seminar about the issue will be on the Manalapan-Englishtown School District's website after all of the back-to-school nights are completed.

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