Internet safety is a concern that many parents have. Children are becoming victims of exploitation, and deceptive predators are gaining their trust. Internet safety is difficult enough to manage at home. But tackling this issue in our schools may be even more difficult. It is interesting to note that based on a 2005-2006 study, 93% of parents say they have established rules for their child’s Internet activity while only 37% of students report being given no rules from their parents on using the Internet. Obviously something is not right here. Either parents aren’t getting the message of the importance of Internet safety through to their kids, or the kids are not taking these dangers seriously.
If kids are acting recklessly at home under their parent’s watchful eye, you can imagine the fear that a teacher has when given the responsibility of monitoring dozens of children at one time. This same report found that 26% of students believe their parents would be concerned if they knew what they did on the Internet. You need to know what you can do to improve Internet safety in the classroom.
Filters, firewalls, activity reports and spyware are all technological ways that you can keep an eye on more than one child at the same time. 58% of students admit to using the Internet unsafely, inappropriately, or illegally. With a filtering program, a teacher needs only to enter in specific sites or a general type of site that are not appropriate. The software will then block those sites from loading, and the student will not be able to gain access to them. Additionally, firewalls protect children from the negative repercussions of giving out personal information on the Internet. 55% of students report having given out personal information (e.g. name, age, gender, home address) to someone they have only met online. With firewall protection, at least no other outsider can look in on a conversation where such information is being exchanged. Although you cannot always stop a child from giving out personal information, an activity report can show you what a child has been doing online. Activity reports and spyware allow a parent or teacher to see every site that a child visited and when they visited that site. Parents and teachers can then block the specific sites that students visit often and shouldn’t be visiting at all, and they can further educate children of the dangers of their particular actions.
Technology is not perfect, and with the cleverness of kids these days you may not be able to keep up with them. Thus the best methods for teaching your children Internet safety on the classroom is to make sure those children are being given rules and guidelines about Internet use at home. It is estimated that 80% of students spend at least one hour per week on the Internet. Of course the majority of those students are spending much more than just one hour a week. In fact, 31% of students have a personal web page that they update and post messages to on a regular basis. Advise parents to set rules as to how long a child can spend on the computer in a given period of time and what sites are and are not appropriate. Doing so will aid the child in making wise decisions no matter what computer they happen to be on.
Students are much less likely to do something online that they know they are not supposed to be doing if they know that the teacher is watching them. Thus it is important to be supervising children while they are online at school. Make sure that the computer is in an open area so that there is no secrecy as to the sites being visited.