When the idea of the Internet first surfaced 25 years ago, little did we know what a huge impact it would have on our world. Starting out slowly, the Internet has worked its way into every aspect of our lives. Now, it is difficult to imagine how we could function without it. Maybe we were being hopeful or possibly incredibly naïve, but very few of us truly realized how quickly the Internet would become a dangerous place, especially for the children. Whereas it made research easier, communication faster, and socializing a twenty-four hour event, it made keeping children safe much more difficult.
“Problematically, the growing evidence of online risks leads some to recommend all means of keeping children safe, even though this will restrict their opportunities” (Livingstone, 2009). However this is not the answer. Children must learn at an early age how to safely navigate the Internet since it will be a part of their lives when they enter the work force. “As Internet use has become a daily part of most students’ lives, students must know how to protect themselves and their identity at all times especially when teachers and parents aren’t there to help them” (Stansbury, 2011). Some ways teachers can teach children about Internet safety is through gaming, student-generated projects, role-playing, and guest speakers. All of these resources provide children with a real-world experience without having to learn lessons the hard way.
Teachers can prepare children for potentially unsafe situations through lessons taught in school. The following are safety tips provided by the FBI to stay safe when using the Internet:
- First remember never to give out personal information such as your name, home address, school name, or telephone number in a chat room or on bulletin boards. Also never send a picture of yourself to someone you chat with on the computer about your parent’s permission.
- Never right to someone who has made you feel uncomfortable or scared.
- Do not meet someone or have him or her visit you without the permission of your parents.
- Tell your right away if you read anything on the Internet that makes you feel uncomfortable.
- Remember that’s people online may not be who they say they are. Someone who says that she is a 12-year-old girl could really be an older man.
Internet safety lessons learned in school will help children stay safe when they are not in school. “Concern has therefore arisen for unsupervised children’s safety when surfing the web as the Internet both contains material that parents may not wish their children to view and allows children to chat with people they have not messed and who may seem not be as they seem” (Wishart, 2004). Before children should be given access to the Internet at school, they and their parents need to read and sign an Acceptable Use Policy, which should outline safe Internet practices. Above all, students must be supervised at all times when they are online.
FBI. 2014. Retrieved from http://www.fbi.gov/fun-games/kids/kids-safety.
Livingstone, S. (2009). Maximising opportunities and minimising risks for children online. Intermedia (0309118X), 37(4), 50-72.
Stansbury, M. (2011). 10 ways schools are teaching internet safety. Retrieved from http://www.eschoolnews.com.
Wishart, J. (2004). Internet safety in emerging educational contexts. Computers and Education, 43, 193-204.