Technology is changing at a rapid pace. Just when we think we have it mastered it changes and we start all over again. Technology teachers; struggle to keep up, right? The only way to keep up is to stay focused on the technology issues that truly affect us; that’s why I pushed Internet Safety to the forefront of our technology curriculum, and declared October Internet Safety Month.
The Internet can be a valuable resource for students. They can research a multitude of encyclopedias, Skype friends or family members around the world, e-mail homework assignments to teachers to beat a deadline, and play games with people from across the seas. The possibilities are endless. Students who are old enough to punch in a few letters on the keyboard can access the world.
Having access to the world at any age can be exciting, but for a child it can be risky. For example, when I first started teaching one of my students wanted to use a picture of an M&M candy for a project, so she Googled candy. Because the keyword was so general, a variety of images appeared. This was an eye opening learning moment for both the student and me.
Internet Safety is a general term. There are several issues that hang under that term, such as: Cyberbullying, Privacy, and Netiquette. The last three weeks of October focuses on each aspect of these issues.
Cyberbullying – Cyberbullying, which is sometimes referred to electronic bullying, can involve the use of emails, instant messaging, text messaging, web pages, blogs, chat rooms, and social networking websites. Using these outlets, children and teens ca bully others by sending threatening messages or images, posting sensitive private information about another person, or pretending to be someone else in order to make that person look bad. Words hurt, if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything.
Privacy issues - No giving out personal information, no talking to strangers on-line, no sending pictures to strangers, no clicking on pop ups, no downloading without permission, no disclosure of passwords, getting permission before accessing new websites, and correct Netiquette. Netiquette is a term used for proper etiquette while on-line. Remembering manners on-line is just as important as having manners in everyday life.
It is important to be aware of what kids read, see, and hear on the Internet whether they are at school or at home. Keeping lines of communication open will ensure their safety. Talking openly about the Internet will build strong relationships that will continue through middle school, high school, college, and life.
This experience with teaching Internet Safety has been a very powerful and moving lesson for me. The kids and I have bonded over these issues. We’ve discussed the issues, shared our feelings, and opened our lines of communication. I was truly impressed with the responses, questions, and discussions from the children that came about as a result of my Internet Safety lessons.
The Internet is a tool that should be used to inspire, encourage, teach, and entertain. Here are some websites that are filled with Internet Safety information for young students, teens, and parents.
Resources for this article: http://www.teenangels.org/internet_safety/cyberbullying.html
And article The New Face of Bullying by Paul J. Clear: Ph.D.