Sunday, April 26, 2009

Not Who? But How?

I don't think the question is:
"Who is responsible for teaching students about online safety?"
I think the question is:
"How do we teach students to be safe online?"
We being teachers, administrators, activities supervisors, and parents.

I fall into three of the categories above - I am a parent of two children (12 & 16 years old), I am a teacher of young children (5-7 year olds), and I help with a Girl Guide Troop (12-14 year olds). So now what I need is help. How do you make online safety relevant, understandable, and meaningful to all kids at all developmental levels? Especially when we don't all have the same definitions and understandings of privacy, cyberbullying, and "friends".

As a teacher and volunteer - I've looked at the Acceptable Use Policies for all three schools. Online safety is mentioned in all of them, mostly - keeping passwords secure and not sharing personal information. I'm not sure that is enough guidance for students to really understand what it means to be safe online and more importantly why it is important to be safe online and what to do if you don't feel safe. I know that the AUP's aren't curriculum or benchmarks and standards, but maybe that's what is needed to help teachers know what to, when to, and how to teach students about online safety.

As a parent I was very apprehensive when my own children wanted to start participating in online social networks.
My son's online social networking began with World of Warcraft in middle school and now he is part of the Facebook community. My daughter started with Club Penguin while she was in second grade, she has now moved on to Howrse. (A side note - when I asked her how to spell the website she of course wanted to know why I wanted to know. So I told her that I was going to use it in my blog. After reading what I had already written over my shoulder, she immediately assured me that even though she has friends on the website that she doesn't "know" she only communicates with one of her friends from school that her and I both "know". I assured her that I knew she was listening to me when we talked about "knowing" people and that we would have many more talks about it.) As a parent I have tried to stay aware of what type of social networks my children are using and I continually talk to them about being safe and not sharing too much. But I don't know if I'm going about it in the right way. Am I being effective or just enoying? Am I doing everything I should? Actually as I am writing this post I realize that the one thing that I haven't done is talk to my kids about what to do if they get themselves into a situation that is uncomfortable, inappropriate, and/or harassing. I guess I know what I need to do next as a parent - as for the when it will be soon - the how I need to think about.

So now as an educator I need to figure out the what, when, and how for my students.

No comments:

Post a Comment