Teaching younger students internet safety is very important as they begin to navigate the world wide web. We have been talking about digital citizenship since school began and this morning we spent some time discussing how to protect ourselves online. According to Mary Beth Hertz published on Edutopia, “With children spending time online at younger and younger ages, it is vital to teach young children how to protect themselves online.” They get the Stranger Danger message about how to handle strangers they might face but it is crucial to transfer this knowledge to online safety. There are three things to consider when talking about internet safety with young children. First, students’ understanding that the virtual environment when thinking about strangers does not transfer automatically and needs to be explicitly taught. Second not all strangers online are dangerous and often we can collaborate with experts (like Kevin Carroll tomorrow) through social media. Lastly, students need strategies for handling situations in the online environment.
We talked about what a stranger was and how not all strangers are bad people. I gave the example of the young man who held the door open for me at Dunkin Donuts this morning (chivalry is not dead). We followed up with a discussion of things we would not tell a stranger (address, full name, phone number, etc.) versus things it is okay to tell a stranger (any kind of information that will not put them in harm’s way). This led into talking about strangers online (people we might play games with or Tweet with). We watched a BrainPOP video on online safety and held a follow up discussion.
Great resources for you to follow up with at home are:
Common Sense Media (I used this to explain to my sister why The Good Dinosaur was rated PG rather than G)