In recognition of Internet Safety Month here in the U.S., cybersafety lesson plan ideas from guest author Mario Nguyen.
With the increasing convergence of technology and education, the benefits of using technology in the classroom often overshadow a focus on the risks that come with such melding. Despite the overwhelming pressure educators feel to move toward technological integration, many find themselves unsure how best to help students navigate safely through the cyber world. In fact, a 2011 study conducted by the National Cyber Security Alliance found that when asked what cyber security related topics they had taught their students in the past year, 50% of teachers answered “none.” June is officially “Internet Safety Month,” and the following seven areas are the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s recommended cyber safety topics to cover with children.
Surfing the Internet certainly puts a vast array of knowledge at a student’s fingertips. However, not only can children be exposed to inappropriate material, but they often lack the ability to evaluate the credibility of the sources they are exposed to. In order to remedy this, encourage your students to ask an adult if they need help searching for information, and tell students that if they are exposed to any material that makes them feel uncomfortable or scared, they should immediately tell a trusted adult.
Social networks can display personal information that is easily accessible by anyone. Therefore, you should instruct your students to restrict their privacy settings so their profiles are only visible to people on their contact lists. They should also only add people they know in real life and avoid making sensitive information like phone numbers and addresses available. Instruct your students to be aware of how they use geo-tagging tools. A 17 year old girl in Australia learned this the hard way when her geo-tagged status led to a home robbery. Appropriate nicknames can also be a security shield for minors on social networks.
With enticing claims and the capability of third parties to disguise themselves as legitimate agencies, email messages can be very deceptive. Teaching students not to share passwords and not to open emails from people they do not know can help eliminate these issues.
Instant messengers can lead children to become victims of cyber-bullying or sexual harassment. Remind your students only to IM people they know in real life, to restrict the privacy settings on their accounts, and to tell an adult about any harassment or uncomfortable conversations.
Wireless Devices and Texting
Cell phones are direct gateways to inappropriate communication with children because they open the door for “sexting,” bullying, and more. Teach your students never to give their number to someone they do not know in person and never to post it online. Also, talk to your students about the possible implications of sending sexually explicit images of themselves or others.
Posting Videos and Photos
With programs like Skype and Google+ Hangouts, and with the growing allure of YouTube sensations, videos can work against students’ best interests if they aren’t careful. Remind your students of the risks of posting sensitive images online and the impact viral videos or images can have on an individual’s reputation. They should understand that when they engage in video chats or post pictures of themselves, these can easily be recorded and shared with others.
Online games often have built-in instant messaging features. Instruct your students that their profiles should not contain any personal information, and remind them to refrain from sharing such data with other players.
The integration of technology and education certainly offers substantial benefits, but as we continue to educate students about available technologies, we must be sure to provide guidelines that will keep our students safe. At Applied Practice, our goal is to equip teachers with the tools they need to prepare their students for success beyond the classroom.