Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Online Safety

Online Safety

This year the library media center's theme (if you will) is Internet Safety and ways to remind our students how to safely use the many tools the Internet has to offer.  To me, the Internet feels like a relatively new means of getting information and connecting with family.  For many of our kids, it is a way of life - and they have known no other.

So...what do we tell them without seeming like we are antiquated?  After all, they are the ones who have grown up with cell phones, laptops, and intricate gaming devices.  Do we even have a chance when it comes to sounding knowledgeable about technology around tweens and teens?

Here are a few of my own personal observations in regard to teaching children how to be safe online.  Later posts will follow up with ideas for lesson plans and online sources to go to for information.
  • Speak the same language as kids. Keep a dialogue open about what happens online.  Ask them about their facebook or other social networking tools.  For a lot of kids, facebook isn't in addition to their regular social life - it IS their social life.
  • If you have a facebook, go on it and see how our students are treating one another.  You don't have to be their friend to view their profile if their profile is public.  Once a child knows you can see how they act (even online!) they are less likely to be 'inappropriate' or mean (or have a public profile!).
  • Tell kids that you can see their profile.  Ask them why it isn't set to private.
  • Be knowledgeable - understand that employers are now asking for people's facebook accounts.  Everything we do online potentially exists forever.  So, that 'gone wild' picture from when someone was 16 may just prevent them from landing a job some day.
  • In my own home, computer time is often family time.  We sit together and do things online.  Last night we designed sneakers online!  I know what my daughter is doing on the computer and iphone and she knows I will check from time to time. 
  • Don't assume students know what NOT to do online.  Remind them not to put ANY information online for ANY reason without asking a parent or guardian first.
  • Remind kids - if you wouldn't say it in person - don't say it online!
These may be obvious tips, but I hope they help. I do cover these things with our 7th grade Info Tech students, but it always helps if respected adults reinforce. Please feel free to post your own tips and suggestions for keeping our kids safe online.

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