6 Ways to Address Internet Safety for Students
We spend quite a bit of time teaching students how to be responsible citizens in the world. As they become more and more involved with the digital world, we also need to help teach them how to be a responsible digital citizen.
Teaching digital citizenship has many of the same concepts as being a quality citizen, but technology adds new dimensions that need to be addressed with both students and parents. According to the 2018-2019 Global State of Digital Learning Study, internet safety for students is the #1 concern related to digital citizenship. As more and more technology reaches our classrooms and our students’ hands, we must be proactive in finding solutions and educating students and families about internet safety.
While we hope that students use the internet appropriately, Panda Security discovered that 23% of 8-17 year olds admitted that they didn’t know how to control who can see their social media profiles. They also learned that 29% of parents allow their children to use the internet without restriction or supervision. So there are multiple groups of people that have unencumbered internet access.
The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) was updated in 2013. These updates are geared toward learning how old the user is so their information can be protected. The problem with COPPA is that children can lie. They can lie about their age; they can lie about parental consent, and even if they tell the truth, they are usually under the age of 17, making them a minor. While this law has been amended to help protect children, it still has those flaws.
One great tool for teaching children about digital citizenship is your LMS. You can use it to create courses and lessons on being a good digital citizen. Below you will find several ideas to educate parents and students about when it comes to internet safety as well as ways to use your LMS to do it.
1. Get Parents Involved in Educating Their Children
This is the highest priority for schools and internet safety awareness. If parents don’t know or don’t care about something, their children won’t know or care about it either. We need to educate parents on how to educate their children about internet safety. Many parents don’t think about it because they don’t think about it themselves. Here are some ways to encourage parents to teach their children about internet safety.
You can use your LMS to have a section or course about internet safety that parents can take. It could even be a required course or video that talks about the different aspects of being a digital citizen and how they can help their children be more aware on the internet.
2. Share Experiences With Their Children
Many adults use social media and the internet on a daily basis. Imagine if they began to talk to their children about why they were making a certain post or looking through multiple websites to get the answer they are looking for. Students would then have an example of good internet habits. They could see their parents respond to texts and emails at family appropriate times.
If parents were to follow their children on social media and vice versa, children would see their parents post positive messages and pictures. If parents take the opportunity even to share their social media feeds with their children at a young age, parents can explain how they handle inappropriate posts and even how to respond to other posts. Encouraging parents to share their own social media, email, and internet habits sets a great example for their children.
Using your LMS, you can create a discussion board where anonymous writers can share their experiences with writing emails, texts, and social media posts. They can be both bad and good experiences. Both parents and students can respond to these posts and practice writing positive messages all while encouraging the original writer of the experience.
3. Promote A Responsible Use of Devices
It is entirely possible for parents to be in control of devices and internet usage within their homes. While it can be challenging, setting a tone for responsible use of devices is a smart choice. Many incidents with cyber bullying take place out of parent eyesight. Putting devices away for the night encourages good sleep habits so students aren’t up all night playing on their phones. Also, many incidents of cyber bullying take place in the late night hours.
Envision a family who has a charging station with enough charging ports for everyone in the house’s phones. At night, all devices get plugged into the station so they are charged for the next day. This also eliminates unsupervised usage behind closed bedroom doors. Having a common space for charging phones and devices allows for rested children and charged devices for the day.
An LMS for this aspect of digital citizenship can be a little more challenging, but you could have students and their families post pictures of their device-free family time. There could even be a week-long challenge where families have to check in each day with a picture or post regarding a challenge set forth by your technology department. Challenges could include: a picture of the family charging station, a picture of a device-free family activity, a story about playing board games, or any other family-related ideas.
4. Teach the Golden Rule
We teach students about the Golden Rule in person, but they forget that the same rules apply when you can’t see the person you are talking to or about. Cyber bullying is a way for the bully to hide behind a screen and say whatever they want without seeing the impact of their words. Parents and teachers need to talk about the Golden Rule more now in terms of digital citizenship.
When students post things on social media, those pictures and messages are there for a lifetime. They leave a digital footprint wherever they go. With their phones attached to their hands, they post picture after picture and send text after text without a thought. Their digital reputation is just as important if not more important than their in-person reputation. We know that many employers check social media before calling a person for an interview, and sometimes, people don’t get the job based on their posts.
To help teach this concept, you can use your LMS to hold a mock interview. You can set up a job description and some fake social media sites for different candidates as well as background stories for these fake personas. Students could then be the boss and decide who to interview and who to hire. After they make their decisions, you can share the full story of each person and discuss the students’ choices. It might also be interesting to have an administrator or local business owner or parent complete the same process. You could compare their choices and discuss the impact of protecting their reputation in the digital world.
5. Evaluate Online Relationships
There are nefarious people out there that try to steal identities, and unfortunately, students are great prey because of their innocence. Children are generally kind enough that they want to talk to people, and they don’t always know who they are talking to. Catfishing, or creating a fake online persona to trick someone, is a very real issue for your students. They can end up in chat rooms, whether on purpose or by accident, where they meet people they do not know. It is very important to help students protect themselves from people who are trying to hurt them using the internet.
One way to use your LMS to accomplish this is to create a “chat room” within it. Your tech department can create conversation starters that might interest students. At school, you can discuss with students how to handle conversations about where they live and where they go to school. This would also be a great opportunity to get your School Resource Officers involved. They can teach students what to look for in a trustworthy person while building a trusting relationship with students. Parents could even get involved with the mock chat room from home and discuss situations with their children.
6. Question Digital Sources and Their Credibility
Google is a finger click away. Students “google” so many questions on any given day. When it comes to research that teachers ask them to complete, Google is their go-to tool. Teaching them how to recognize a phony site is very important, so they don’t use incorrect information or give away any information that could harm them or their digital reputation.
Wikipedia is a great example of a not-so-good source. Anyone can add to it, so it is not reliable. Teachers also have to teach students about websites that ask for their information. Some websites will allow anyone to see a portion of their information, but you have to sign up for their website, and possible enter a credit card, to get the full access to the information. Teaching students to stay away from these websites to protect them is a good idea.
Using your LMS, you can create a research assignment where you have students go to different websites and assess their credibility. You can discuss with them why or why not the website is a good choice for their research. A race could even be created using your LMS to see who can get the information correct from the right websites the fastest. It would be a fun way to talk about website credibility.
Hopefully, these give you a few ideas on how to not only educate your students and parents about digital citizenship, but also how to use your LMS to help you accomplish it.
Do you have any ideas for addressing internet safety for students? Share with us on Twitter @Schoology