All parents teach their kids how to be safe. From a young age, kids learns to look both ways before crossing the street or never to talk to strangers. Parents teacher their kids how to get a long with others, mind their manners and treat others with respect. While these tips will keep kids safe when they are out of the house, it won’t keep them safe when they are sitting at home on their computer or tablet. If the child has a smartphone, they are constantly connected to a potentially dangerous would. The internet is like an exciting big city, full of life and possibility. The internet is fun and it never sleeps. Though, ike big cities, the internet comes with danger. There are criminals, con artists and conflict abound. It is important that we teach kids today how to be safe in this powerful and fast growing virtual world.
There a few basic guidelines that we as teachers should review with our students on an effort to help them understand internet safety.
1. Privacy on the internet doesn’t exist. Even if Twitter and Facebook are set to private, there are always ways around it. There is always the risk that someone you have allowed in will pass on something you wanted private. You never know who is watching you on the internet so keep private information off the internet. Don’t Tweet your phone number, don’t post on Facebook that you are home alone for the weekend. Also, don’t tweet out a picture of any important documents (believe it or not, there are people Tweeting pictures of their new drivers license).
2. Be Nice. Those are real people out there! It is easy forget that every Tweet, email, blog post, and Snapchat was sent from a real person with real feelings. Be nice to them. Before you hit send, think to yourself, “is this something I would say to their face?” “Would I be ok if my mom or dad read this?” Remember, there is no privacy on the internet and someday you your parent may end up reading it.
3. You can’t delete anything from the internet. Regret the picture you just posted on Instagram? Embarrassed by something you posted on Tumblr? You can remove it from your account, but that doesn’t remove it from the internet. Someone else could have already saved the message/image/video or used a screenshot to capture it. Which brings me to the next point…
4. If in doubt, don’t do it. If you have any sense or inkling that something you are about to download or post might be a bad idea, than it probably is. Play it safe and don’t do it. You may want to speak to a trusted adult about their opinion. Just don’t rush into it. You can always send an email later, but once an email is sent, there is no unsending it.
5. The 5 R’s or How to stay safe from online predators:
One of the greatest dangers to children on the internet is dealing with con-artists and sexual predators. i-Safe is a company that specializes in providing information and curriculum to help make children safer on the internet. They have a guide that they call the 4 R’s. I have posted that below, but I have added what I believe is a 5th R. I-Safe is a great place to visit for information on internet safety specifically geared towards children.
RECOGNIZE techniques used by online predators to deceive.
REFUSE requests for personal information.
RESPOND assertively if you are ever in an uncomfortable situation online. Exit the program, log off or turn off the computer, tell a trusted adult, or call the police.
REPORT to a trusted adult any suspicious or dangerous contact that makes you feel uncomfortable (“Internet safety tips,”).
and the fifth R is to REMEMBER that not everyone online is who they say they are. A online predator isn’t going to tell you that he is a predator. They often make fake names and ages and post fake pictures of themselves to gain your trust.
Remember that staying safe is a team effort. Teachers, parents, students, friends, and siblings all should work together to keep each other safe. If you saw a young person close to you playing in a dangerous street or being approached by a stranger person, you wouldn’t hesitate to step in and help them. Don’t hesitate to help them be safe on the internet.
Internet safety tips for students and parents. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.isafe.org/outreach/media/media_tips
Degnan, T. (2013, March 04). Internet safety library. Retrieved from http://www.commonsensemedia.org/blog/internet-safety-library
Below are some other fine resources where teachers, parents, and students can learn more about internet safety through videos and interactive tutorials.