Children, Online Safety, & Online Learning
Oh, how life has changed since the days of the one-room schoolhouse. These days our students learn much of their new material online, and while technology can be an amazing tool, it is also fraught with multiple dangers.
However, with some advanced knowledge and education, students, parents, as well as educators can work together to make online learning a fruitful and positive experience.
Did you know some experts recommend parents begin to teach students about online safety when they are in the second grade?
Does it annoy you that companies and websites collect your personal information without your permission?
What's the first concept to teach students about safe online learning? Educate your students about the general idea of their digital footprints. Let them know to be wary that every website they visit and every email they send creates a ''trail'' which allows strangers to ''observe'' them each day.
Needless to say, the MOST important online safety rule is to NEVER allow a child to go and meet someone they met online in person.
Make sure children understand that they should NEVER provide anyone with their personal information (e.g., name, address, telephone number, city, state) online, either.
Remind children to NEVER share their passwords, even with someone they think is a close friend, as sadly, friendships can change over the years.
Also, let them know they can effectively reduce their digital footprint by NEVER installing suspicious apps on their phones. Furthermore, do you hate those annoying pop-up ads when you are online surfing? We do too, and it is a good idea to tell students NEVER to click on them for any reason.
Bullying and Zoombombing
The Golden Rule suggests that people should treat others respectfully in a manner in which they wish to be treated.
The concept of bullying is a two-way street. Let students know they shouldn't do the bullying, but they shouldn't put up with bullying, either.
What is zoombombing or zoom raiding? We are all using Zoom more these days, especially since the outbreak of the coronavirus, and this occurs when an uninvited person somehow joins in a Zoom meeting. While some of these zoombombing incidents are harmless practical jokes, others are downright hostile and contain inappropriate messages. Please let students know to be wary that a stranger with bad intent could try to join in during online studies.
Don't forget to research the following:
- Center for Cyber Safety and Education
- Children's Online Privacy Protection Rule (COPPA)
- Common Sense Media Privacy Program
- National Education Technology Standards for Students (formerly NETS, now International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE))
- National Education Technology Standards for Teachers (NETT)
- National Education Technology Standards Project
- Technology Standards for School Administrators (TSSA)
Study.com also offers an online Teaching Social Media Safety & Digital Citizenship Course that is helpful. Here, students can learn how to stay safe on social media, online communities, online communication and etiquette, digital citizenship, and much more. Each lesson includes a quiz, so students can gauge their understanding of each topic.
Of course, in this modern world, students, parents, and teachers love utilizing apps, and many of them are available which deal with our topic of safe online learning:
- Net Nanny
- FamilyTime Premium
Internet Safety Games
Why not make the concept of online safety fun and turn learning about it into a game? For example, Interland is an adventure game that allows students to find out helpful advice while assisting one another.
By the way, BrainPop, Storybooth, and YouTube all offer cyber safety videos for students.
Perhaps the most powerful way to make an impression on students is to create various theoretical or fake scenarios and allow them to make the correct judgments.
Scenario # 1:
Bobby is an eighth-grade student who likes to converse with his friends on Facebook. One day he gets a message from a stranger saying he is an old college friend of Bobby's parents, and he would like Bobby to join one of his Facebook groups. Should Bobby join the group, ignore the request, tell his parents, call the stranger a liar, or do something else?
Scenario # 2:
Mary is a seventh-grade student who is rather shy and only speaks on social media with a few close friends. However, she is being bullied by a new unfriendly student. Should Mary bully the girl back, tell her parents, block the girl from her account, quit social media altogether, or do something else?
Finally, if you wish to go a step further beyond creating scenarios, you can even allow students to be budding actresses and actors by role playing about online safety.
Studying online can be a dangerous world for students, but by applying some practical measures, they can learn in a safe and constructive manner throughout the school year.