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Internet safety spotlighted at Billings film screening

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Posted at 3:15 PM, Mar 23, 2022

BILLINGS — Science took center stage at the Babcock Theater in Billings on Tuesday night with a special screening of the film, "Searching" with a focus on criminal justice and internet safety.

"The idea is that we play a film, then we have a scientific conversation that's inspired by the film," said Art House Cinema executive director Matt Blakeslee.

Art House Cinema executive director Matt Blakeslee speaks with MTN News about the Science on Screen event.

The showing was part of Science on Screen, which is a grant-funded program that pairs movies with scientific conversation at participating theaters across the country.

The story of the 2018 film "Searching" is told through the lens of a computer webcam, and follows a father who is trying to track down his runaway daughter via social media.

Other nights, Science on Screen community presenters in Billingshave tackled topics like weather, zoology, and beer brewing, but Tuesday's discussion centered around internet safety.

The promo poster for "Searching" hangs in the Babcock Theater box office window in Billings.

That included a presentation from Billings Police Detective Earl Campbell. He has 29 years of law enforcement experience and serves on an FBI task force fighting internet crimes and child exploitation.

"It's a good movie. I focus more on the internet safety aspect of what the parents could have done differently or how the father could have done things better, or at least have been more involved with what his child was doing," Campbell said.

Billings Police Detective Earl Campbell speaks with MTN News ahead of the "Searching" screening in the Babcock Theater.

Campbell said "Searching" took some creative liberties with how the police investigated the disappearance in the film, but there were some helpful safety tips for parents when it comes to internet safety. Namely: parents should know what their kids are doing online and keep a record of the sites they visit, along with their passwords.

"Know who they are talking to. Know what accounts they are using and keep track of that. The other misnomer that we always hear is that the parents don't want to look at devices because it's invading their kids' privacy. But unless you look into that device, you don't know what your kids are doing. So it's not really a privacy matter, it's a safety matter," he said.

Another internet tip Campbell shared that's good for everyone — don't accept friend requests from people you haven't met in person.

Keep an eye out for the next Science on Screen event coming up in May, which will feature staff from ZooMontana and a discussion about animals following a screening of the 1990 film, "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles".