The Internet is an integral part of all levels of education; it is utilized in nearly every classroom and in every subject. Students complete their homework online, study online and interact online almost daily. Teaching students in the modern era requires seamlessly integrating technology and education. Students, teachers and parents must learn how to use this technology safely.
Roblyer and Doering (2013) identify five main challenges to using the Internet in an educational context (pp. 214-216):
- Accessing sites with inappropriate materials
- Safety and privacy issues for students
- Fraud on the Internet
- Hacking and computer viruses
- Copyright issues and plagiarism
Caroline Knorr from Common Sense Media, outlines the importance of teaching students, especially high school students, how and why to be safe on the Internet. She stresses the importance of sharing the permanence of the Internet and what is posted. What a student posts can affect their lives for years to come and could impact their ability to gain college admissions or employment. Ms. Knorr outlines some Internet safety basics for parents and educators:
- Give teens a code of conduct. Tell them that if they wouldn’t say something to someone’s face, they shouldn’t text it, IM it, or post it.
- Remind teens to use social networks’ privacy settings so only their friends can see their stuff.
- Kids should never open an email from a stranger – it may contain viruses that can harm a computer.
- Tell them not to send pictures to strangers or view pictures that strangers send to them.
- Passwords should be kept private (except to parents).
- Explain to teens that people aren’t necessarily who they say they are in cyberspace.
- If a child plans to meet someone, it should be in a public place, with a friend.
Educators need to be actively involved in the safety and security of students working online. Part of every classroom instruction should be a lesson on Internet safety. The Internet is a wonderful resource for students and teachers. Knowledge and awareness are the two keys to safety on the Internet. In addition to keeping our children safe on the Internet, we need to help them become effective digital citizens. What is a digital citizen? According to the Niagra Falls school district:
- A digital citizen can be described as a person who uses appropriate, responsible behavior with regard to technology use. A digital citizen is a safe Internet user.
- It is the task of teachers, parents and guardians of our students to assist them in becoming safe, digital citizens who can use all the technology available to them effectively.
The FBI has developed a guide for parents for Internet safety. The guide outlines students who are at risk and signs to watch for. The guide also provides many helpful tips if a parent or teacher suspects a child or student is in a dangerous situation. Most importantly, the FBI guide outlines what can be done to minimize the chances of a child becoming of victim online. The site also clearly states, “There are dangers in every part of our society. By educating your children to these dangers and taking appropriate steps to protect them, they can benefit from the wealth of information now available on-line.” Teachers and parents need to take the appropriate steps to ensure the safety of students while allowing them to reap the many benefits that the Internet can provide to education.
The FBI, “A Parent’s Guide to Internet Safety”. http://www.fbi.gov/stats-services/publications/parent-guide
Microsoft Age Based Guidelines
The FBI, “A Parent’s Guide to Internet Safety”. Retrieved on March 13 from http://www.fbi.gov/stats-services/publications/parent-guide
Knorr, C. (2012, March 19). “Internet Safety Tips for High School Kids” Retrieved from http://www.commonsensemedia.org/blog/internet-safety-tips-for-high-school-kids
Niagra Falls School District “An Internet Safety Curriculum Guide for Teachers”. Retrieved on March 13 from http://www.nfschools.net/domain/1252
Roblyer, M.D. and Doering, A.H. (2013). Integrating educational technology into teaching. (6th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.