The Internet is a wonderful resource for free information from government, local, international and educational sites. Additionally the Internet provides current students with low-cost access to information that you and I could never have imagined growing up. But, like most things in life, the Internet does come with some ugly strings attached. There are Internet predators and sites with inappropriate content for our children. The Internet is limitless in the influences that it makes possible for our children and not all of those influences are uplifting.
It can be difficult to make sure that children are protected from the dangers of the Internet while they are at school. Teachers must take an active role in providing the safest environment possible for the students, and children need to know the difference between what is and what is not acceptable Internet use.
Children need structured education about how to safely use the Internet. Teachers should play an active role in helping children make wise decisions both in and out of school. Internet safety deserves a place in the regular yearly curriculum our teachers have. There are resources for teachers to learn more about the Internet themselves. After all, these dangers did not exist 15 years ago. Teachers should also be given the opportunity to be taught about Internet safety. School boards and districts would benefit from incorporating or instigating Internet safety programs that both teachers and students can benefit from.
Use of real world examples
You can probably think of a number of different news stories that involve children being the target of an Internet predator. Although you do not want to scare your students, you need to relay the severity of the danger that exists if they do not practice the principles of Internet safety. Children learn well from stories and real-life examples. Make sure that you make the content appropriate for children and let them know that sad cases of bad things happening to children can be prevented.
In my day, we were taught the dangers of strangers through role playing and the use of examples. The same methods are useful for teaching about proper Internet use behavior. Many times it is hard for children to understand that anyone can be on the receiving end of an email or another type of message. Explain that sometimes bad people will lie and say that they are someone that they are not. Try to visually illustrate that a stranger on the other end of an Internet connection may be just as dangerous as a stranger who asks you to get into his car.
Quizzes and rewards
Another suggestion for how you can educate your students about Internet safety is to incorporate quizzes and rewards. Many times children need motivation to learn important concepts. Quizzing them regularly on the information regarding Internet safety that they have been taught can help them to remember these principles and keep them at the front of their mind.
Practice at home
Parents have a responsibility to establish their own rules for their children’s Internet use. Students are likely to spend more time on the Internet at home than at school. Make sure that you set clear boundaries for the types of websites your children are allowed to visit, how long they can spend online, etc. Parents are responsible for giving guidance to and protecting their children. Children should then be taking these principles learned at home back to school with them. Your children will also be faced with dangers available on the Internet in places that you may not be able to supervise them. Make sure that you have armed them with the good judgment and responsibility that they will need to protect themselves wherever they choose to go online.