Cyber Safety in The Classroom

This article discusses multiple factors regarding Internet safety including: general need, parental involvement, application, and denial. It dissects “need” in the context of funding and safety. Schools and districts are Federally mandated to implement Internet safety to continue receiving funds for telecommunications and Internet services. However, cyber safety is an important and essential topic whether it is mandated or not. The article also emphasizes the importance of starting the conversations related to Internet safety at a young age.

The moment we give students a key allowing them access to the Internet, we need to start teaching digital ethics. This can easily begin with passwords/passphrases. With direct instruction, students can begin to associate the connection of security and/or privacy early. Think about what you would say to a child the first time you gave him/ her a key to something valuable. What would you say? Keep it safe (why?). Don’t share it (why?). Don’t lose it? (Why?) what does it protect (why?)…..

Parental Involvement
On-going communication with families is an essential component in education. Schools should have multiple methods of established communication venues to communicate what online resources students access at school. But Internet safety, privacy, and security extend beyond the classroom. Parents don’t always know what they don’t know or feel embarrassed to ask. Parent nights, hands-on exploration, and access to resources is vital in today’s education system. Whether or not the school is pushing large technology initiatives, digital ethics and Internet safety are societal issues. We need to be preparing students for success in life. This includes digital life. Teaming up with parents is a great start in promoting successful digital futures.

Enlisting Web 2.0 Resources
When we teach students to drive a car, direct instruction leads to hands on practice which gives way to independence. Direct instruction, immersion with practice, and independence are at the heart of teaching students how to manage their digital presence. This article highlights the importance of hands-on practice in social medias and other Web 2.0 Resources. However, I find there is a huge piece missing in this article related to privacy. The Children’s Online Privacy and protection Act (COPPA) is a Federal Law designed to help parents remain in control of what personal information websites and other services can collect about children under 13. Teachers and schools need to consider what kind of personally identifiable information they may unintentionally be sharing through media, websites, apps or services for young children. This topic is one that requires further exploration on many levels.

Some schools have lock down policies with respect to personal devices in schools. Students live in a world of anytime, anywhere access. If we don’t allow personal devices in schools, they still can access Internet resources off campus. We live in a digital age and digital ethics is a social issue that cannot be ignored, and students are in need of direct instruction and hands on practice in school and at home, but it has to be taught somewhere.

As my children grow, I question technology use in school unless it authentic and hands on. Computers have more potential that passive skill and practice learning. At the same time, I want the expectation for technology integration at a young ages to SLOW DOWN. I want to know that schools and individual teachers are considering Federal laws and scaffolding Internet safety and digital ethics practices as my children advance through school. I am most concerned about their lens of exposure and digital footprint because of peer pressure and the lack of instruction (beyond a few mandated lessons by the Federal government in Anchorage School District). I wish for teacher, school, and community buy- in for this topic.

4 thoughts on “Cyber Safety in The Classroom

  1. Good writing Craig. I got to the part about denial and thought at first that the discussion would move toward people denying there was anything to be concerned about. If there is a place to put your credit card information, load it up. If there was a place to upload pictures, load them up too! I can remember rolling my eyes at my parents dragging their feet at online banking. They just weren’t comfortable with having information that they had spent their whole lives guarding, going off into the unknown of cyberland. They were more right then I was undoubtedly. The denial you really were talking about is just as treachorous I think. Anytime you make something off limits it becomes even more coveted by kids. Saying they just can’t do it rather than teaching them moderation and good decision making is just asking for trouble.

  2. I found your statements/questions here particularly thought provoking: “Think about what you would say to a child the first time you gave him/ her a key to something valuable. What would you say? Keep it safe (why?). Don’t share it (why?). Don’t lose it? (Why?) what does it protect (why?)…..”

    And it is a moving target, isn’t it? Different for 7 year olds than it is for 12 year olds, than for 14, 16 year olds.

    Your statement about wishing that technology integration would slow down was interesting to me as well. I would say that the pace is accelerating. More kids, younger kids, have access to more technology, which has more access than ever before. The rate of exposure itself is expanding geometrically.

    On the subject of the article: Any other criticisms? Was it research based? What about the scholarship of the author’s? How do they reach their conclusions or support their positions? Adequately?

  3. “The moment we give students a key allowing them access to the Internet, we need to start teaching digital ethics.”

    That’s certainly becoming harder and harder as we have students now who have always had access to the internet. The schools can’t teach students from birth! Like you said, we live in a 24/7 connected world. When I was in middle school, I was able to do things on the internet that are harder to do now because the internet’s not quite the wild west frontier it was in 2002. The rules have changed a lot since then. Things are more connected. I think it’s a shame that kids (who are always prone to do dumb things) now have a venue to do dumb things in a place where their dumb things can be accessed forever. It’s kind of scary. Digital Citizenship sounds like a class that should be offered to students at every level. Something related to the internet will, I think, soon enter “the core” and be taught as required alongside English, Math, History, and Science. What exactly will be taught there though? Certainly the things you’ve covered, but, eventually, when those kids are parents, will this still be an issue? Or will the net look too different by then? This is futurist education and it’s very confusing!

    1. As the digital world integrates with our everyday world, how is digital citizenship different than citizenship?

      Seems like we’ve been educating young men and young women on citizenship for a long time. Here’s an example film from the 1950’s:

      Certainly the Greeks and Romans had quite a bit of cultural emphasis on the rights and responsibilities of citizenship.

      Is persistence then, the big difference? The idea that you can do something now as a young person that will bring lasting shame on themselves or their family? Is that different than very old concepts of trans-generational family honor?

Leave a Reply