Columbus seventh-grade students got an opportunity this week to learn how to be smart about online content sharing.

A gymnasium full of Northside Middle School students took in Google’s 45-minute Online Safety Show.

U.S. Rep Luke Messer, the Indiana 6th District Republican congressman from Greensburg, also took in the show Tuesday during one of several stops in Columbus.

“With the internet and technology, today’s kids are growing up in a world very different from what I grew up in,” Messer said. “All of this information is becoming part of their lives at a very young age.”

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He praised Google for putting together a program that focuses on creating a safe and memorable password, how to identify phishing scams and other protections.

In Congress, Messer sponsored the Student Digital Privacy and Parental Rights Act of 2015, which he said was chiefly meant to ensure student data isn’t used for targeted advertising.

After the bill was referred to a subcommittee two years ago, the measure was never brought to the House floor for a vote.

Earlier Tuesday, Messer hosted the fourth annual Congressional Leadership Academy for high school students in the 6th Congressional District. More than 70 students participated and heard speakers that included Columbus Mayor Jim Lienhoop and Indiana National Guard Commander Corey Carr. The program was held at The Commons in Columbus.

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Mark Webber is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at or 812-379-5636.