Internet Safety for Children
Internet sites can be a useful tool for children to learn and connect with peers. Parents and teachers must understand that it is important for children be taught how search, use and learn information on the Internet. Parents have this responsibility also. Children must understand not only the scope and power the Internet but also the appropriate use of [wikipop search=”Social network service”]social networking[/wikipop] sites (e.g. [wikipop]Facebook[/wikipop],[wikipop]MySpace[/wikipop], [wikipop]Twitter[/wikipop], etc.). The Pew Research reported that 73% of our wired teenagers use social networking sites. With the ubiquitous use of cell phones, computers in schools, libraries and at home, denial by schools of these resources by students is not unrealistic. It is the role of parents and teachers to provide guidance and instruction. A child’s Internet activity should be monitored, and children should be instructed and assisted in their use of the Internet.
Similar to the instruction that we provide children about appropriate face-to-face communication with strangers, we must teach Internet safety about communicating with strangers on the Internet. Included in this article are several sites that offer safety tips for children using the Internet and sites that outline positive uses of the Internet. Children should not be taught that the Internet is something to fear; rather we should teach our children to respect the Internet and how to use safe practices on the Internet.
It is important to start teaching safety to young children so that teenagers are aware of being safe when they begin using social networking sites. When using social networking sites, parents should make it their business to talk with their child about privacy settings. Many websites display information contained on a user’s profile publicly. Thus, information posted can becomes public knowledge, i.e., if a teenager were to post that they were going to a particular event on Facebook without first enabling the correct privacy settings, theoretically anyone would be able to view that the teenager is attending that event.
It is also important to detect the warning signs that your child may be at risk on the Internet, either from a sexual predator or from bullying. The resources listed contain information regarding this topic. This includes speaking to your children if you notice that they become withdrawn from normal family life and seem to spend all of their time on the computer, your child is using an online account that does not belong to them, or your child is quickly switching their computer screen off or to another program when you walk in to their room.
The Internet is a great way to open up conversation with children. It should be a team effort with parents or teachers and a child or teenager to make the use of the Internet is a fun and safe experience.
CNN Student News is a daily commercial-free, ten-minute broadcast of the day’s news geared for middle and high school students. You can access the show and free related curriculum materials, including learning activities, discussion questions, news quizzes and one-sheets.
Dr. Bruce Perry discusses the use of technology in the educational development of early childhood students. It weighs the cons of technology use (such as technology largely being “passive,” i.e. exhibiting no emotion like traditional communication methods) with the pros (such as the interactivity of technology, i.e. giving children a role in determining the outcome of an event).
A Parent’s Guide to Internet Safety, presented by the FBI, gives a great overview of the possible dangers that children can face online. It covers what signs may be an indication that children could be at risk, defines common technical terms associated with Internet usage, and provides tips on how to communicate with a child if you suspect that they are at risk of becoming exploited by a sexual predator online.
Social Networking Sites: Safety Tips for Tweens and Teens, set up by the Federal Trade Commission, presents useful information for Tweens and Teens in regards to social networking sites (e.g. Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, etc.). It advocates utilizing a website’s privacy controls to protect your information, refraining from posting personal information (including your address, full name, financial account information, and Social Security number), and refraining from engaging online with people you are unfamiliar with. In addition, this site contains a wonderful database of websites that provide information on a range of Internet security topics.
4 Tips for Integrating Social Media Into the Classroom is a post that offers educators a way to connect their students to the social media world safely and effectively by integrating these sites into their class instruction. It encourages slowly giving students access to more and more sites while always keeping a close eye on their progress. In addition, the post links to several successful classroom integrations with social media sites.
OnGaurd Online is another resource presented by the federal government that presents a wealth of information on online safety, covering such topics as identity theft, internet scams, online shopping, personal computer safety, and even how to dispose of your old computer to name a few. The best parts of the website, however, are the interactive games and humorous videos that make learning about Internet safety a fun and engaging process.
GetNetWise is a site established by the Internet Education Foundation that maintains a blog dedicated to providing specific tips about Internet safety (e.g. how specific privacy settings on Facebook function, how to use Google safely, and whether your Android operating system phone is safe to communicate with the internet). In addition, they have an extremely large database of videos that cover a wide range of Internet safety topics.
Technology Integration in Education, established by the George Lucas Educational Foundation, instructs teachers on ways to integrate all forms of technology (from video cameras to websites) into the classroom. It incorporates video tutorials, testimonials, and even real world examples of successful technology integration. Above all, the multitude of resources are broken up by either subject type or suggested grade level.
iKeepSafe Internet Safety Coalition is a site geared at children, educators, and parents by presenting colorful and fun methods of learning information about internet safety. In the portion of the site geared specifically for children, kids can follow the adventures of Faux Paw, the Techno Cat, iKeepSafe’s mascot, through games, videos, a book, character biographies, downloads, and printable materials. For educators, there are a number of educational materials in printable and video form to introduce students to the potential risks of online access covering a large number of internet devices (e.g. video game consoles, cell phones, web cameras, etc.). Finally, for parents, iKeepSafe presents a number of fun family activities and “Hot Topics” to actively engage the entire family in learning about online safety practices.
National Geographic Kids does a wonderful job of taking the educational content of National Geographic and presenting it in a format that kids will love. Presented are games, videos, activities, stories, and even blogs that dually introduce children to fun and educational content.
FunBrain.com is a site that presents a multitude of games and interactive content for young children. The games cover a number of topics from traditional school subjects to social issues. In addition, there is a section that provides resources for educators that want to present fun, interactive, and non-traditional assignments to their students.
Stay Safe Online presents information on a variety of topics on Internet safety in a more academic fashion than the earlier sites. Here, adults at the home, educators, students, and business owners can read about a variety of topics on internet safety, such as how to protect a business’ employees at work, how to incorporate online safety themes into the classroom, and how to protect your personal internet devices from attacks at home. The site also contains information about Cyber Security Awareness Month and upcoming Internet safety conferences.
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