As an educator, it’s important to recognize that children in modern times are surrounded by technology at school. Whether they have a cell phone in their pocket or require a computer to complete in-class assignments, the internet is available everywhere. When you are setting up your classroom for the new year, consider educating your students on how to be safe while exploring the internet.
You’ll need to understand the meaning of online safety, learn about online child safety laws and find out how you can educate your students on the importance of staying safe online.
Internet Safety & Kids
- 29% of parents allow their children to use the internet without restriction or supervision
What Is Online Safety?
While this broad term can be thrown around a lot, the true meaning behind online safety is keeping your students safe online while still allowing them the freedom to use the internet. Teachers must find a balance between ensuring online safety and allowing students to explore the resources the internet has to offer. Keeping your students safe online includes informing them of the risks and drawbacks of the web, while also encouraging the benefits. Since many educational programs and homework assignments rely on the internet, it’s crucial students know what makes a website off limits.
Online Safety is not:
- Forbidding students to hold social media accounts
Online Child Safety Laws
In order to understand how to keep your students safe online, you’ll want to become familiar with online child safety laws. These can help you find the right websites to incorporate into the classroom and ones to stay away from.
Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA)
The main law regulating children’s online safety is known as the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act or the COPPA. The act has been in place since 2000, and was updated in 2013. It puts parents in the “driver’s seat” of what their child of up to 13 years views online by requiring parental consent for the collection or use of any personal information of young website users.
Where does this come into play for educators? The COPPA has placed requirements on the operators of websites that are either directed to children under 13 or that have knowledge that they are collecting personal information from a child under 13 years of age. This means that limiting kids to websites covered by COPPA can greatly improve their safety.
Websites covered by COPPA include:
- Website/online service directed to children under 13 and collects personal information from them
Flaws with COPPA:
- Websites do not have an effective way to authenticate a child’s age
Websites covered by COPPA must post privacy policies, provide parents with notice of information practices and collect parental consent before collecting a child’s information. However, there are quite a few flaws with this act to keep in mind.
While COPPA is effective for some instances, children are still vulnerable to sensitive material such as graphic violence, sexual content and profanity, as well as cyberbullying. Read below to find out how you can keep your students safe and how you can educate your students to browse the web safely.
Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA)
The Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) went into place in December 2000. It states that no school or library can receive E-rate discounts for internet access unless the school/library certifies it is enforcing an internet safety policy. The internet policy must include the use of filtering or blocking technology and protect against access to graphics that are obscene, include child pornography or are harmful to minors.
CIPA Requires an Internet Safety Policy Addressing:
- Rules that restrict minors access to harmful materials
Flaws with CIPA:
- CIPA does not require the tracking of internet use by minors or adults
CIPA has benefits that can prevent a child from seeing inappropriate content, but the ability to unblock any website makes this act flawed. Be mindful of what students are asking you to disable. As stated above, a major flaw with CIPA is that teachers cannot create their own block lists. This is because the websites blocked are preset and teachers have little control of what websites are qualified as inappropriate. While you can’t create your own block lists of websites to avoid, make it clear that visiting unauthorized websites can be incredibly dangerous and is against the rules.
Educating Students On Online Safety
Managing Student Smartphone Use
- 57% of children have made friends through the internet
While it’s impossible to manage what your students’ do on their smartphones, you can limit the use of them while they’re under your wing. A general rule of thumb is to have them powered off and out of site, but because they are glued to students, suggest they stay in the backpack and only accessed during lunch hour and after school. For children in elementary school, make it a rule to keep the phones out of sight until school gets out. Although the phone is powered off or supposed to be powered off during school hours, you should still inform your students about internet etiquette and safety.
Let them know that your your personal information should always be kept private. An acronym great for remembering this, is YAPPY. This includes Your full name, Address, Phone number, Passwords, Your plans. These details should never be accessible online. Let students know that they should never give out their password, and double check with an adult if they’ve received an unfamiliar email asking them for information. The general rule of thumb for secure passwords is 14+ characters, no words or phrases or important info included (aka birthdays, hobbies). For more information on password protection, click here.
Smartphone Tips for Students
- Keep your phone out of reach during school hours
Cyberbullying Prevention Tips for Kids
Over the past 10 years, cyberbullying has almost doubled from 18% to 34% from 2007 to 2016. Although there are many efforts to combat cyberbullying, the number increases each year, with over 85% of youth having witnessing cyberbullying in action. These numbers are frightening, and as a mentor and a teacher, it’s crucial that you discuss cyberbullying and ways to maintain a safe digital environment. Below are tips you can give to your students to follow.
- Be respectful. When using a chat room or posting on a public platform, be mindful to respect others and treat others the way you want to be treated.
Also remind parents that it is illegal for a child under 13 to have Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat profiles. However, many lie about their age and create one anyway. What’s even scarier is that 23% of children don’t know how to control who can see their social media profiles. Assure parents have an open conversation about social media safety and the privacy settings if their child has a profile, and make sure it is set to private.
Additional Helpful Resources
When in doubt, turn to the internet for more helpful tools to keep your students and yourself safe online. These are helpful resources that can help you make your own online safety lesson plan.
|If you’d like to:||Use:|
|Have a platform for quizzes and turning in homework||Moodle »
|Create a PowerPoint lesson||Prezi »
Google Slides »
|Show students real places in the world||Google Earth »
Google Maps »
|Help students with online reading||Readable »
Storyline Online »
Google Voice »
|Edit photos for digital storytelling, creating captions or category pages||HaikuDeck »
|Give students voice instructions or information||Voki »
|Create instructions with visuals||Tes Teach »
|For students to:||Use:|
|Gather data for a survey||Google Forms »
Survey Monkey »
|Take notes while researching||Evernote »
|Think critically with maps, history research||Google Maps »
|Give a presentation||Prezi »
|Explain steps, idenitfy problems, annotate online text||Scrible »
|Create concise answers||Google Voice »
|Set goals||GoalsOnTrack »
Follow our internet safety tips for the upcoming school year to ensure your students stay safe and secure when browsing the web. Create an open discussion with students to let them know they are always welcome to discuss any web content that may make them uncomfortable or unsure. Each school-owned device should have antivirus software downloaded and an adblocker to ensure secure web browsing.