Technology has been wonderfully breaking barriers, bringing together minds and amalgamating novel ideas for further development of humanity, in ways which would have seemed unthinkable less than 50 years ago. While most of the effects of this technological wonder have been positive, we can’t ignore the ways it has negatively affected our lives, exposing us and making us vulnerable. The world of technology can possess a great threat to students in particular; they are closest and the most exposed ones to the brutalities of its blows. A small misstep, and a student might find himself/herself in grave danger.
Defining Online Safety
The term “online safety” gets casually thrown around in all discussions related to students and the internet. However, the main focus should be to understand what online safety is not. Online safety does not mean blocking websites, heavy online restrictions, stringent internet usage, overbearing internet monitoring and/or criminalization of social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. These restrictions are often imposed upon students for keeping them “safe” but have the opposite impact, as students are then led to find other means for exploring the full possibility of the internet, which may not turn out to be safe.
“Knowledge Is Power”
Teaching students online safety best practices and explaining the benefits of implementing them would go a long way to ensuring good habits for their entire lives.
How to Educate Students Regarding Online Safety
There are innumerable ways to ensure the online safety of students.
As a teacher, you are always in a position to help your students battle virtual challenges. Here are some ways in which you can help them:
- Create a school policy and get the students to sign it: Lay out guidelines in simple, clear terms and describe how much internet usage you expect from the students, what they should avoid and how they should communicate online with others. Share the policy with students and get them to sign it before they use IT facilities at school. Having a school policy will help students understand the seriousness and gravity of their online security.
- Teach students about online privacy: Make them aware of the importance of managing their online privacy. Have an explicit conversation with them regarding the pros and cons of the connected world.
- Construct an efficient cyberbullying report system: Every school faces the challenge of cyberbullying. As a teacher, you should be able to support your students when it happens and educate them about the correct way of using the internet. Create an effective and efficient reporting system that’s accessible to both parents and children and follow through on every report you receive.
- Keep up with the latest technology trends: Keep yourself updated with technology to assist students whenever they need it. Students confide in trusted sources, and by educating yourself you can serve as a better resource for them.
- Provide students with resources: There are a lot of educational services online, but not every site is trustworthy. Research online sites and platforms and make sure others have had a positive experience from the perspective of safety, security and privacy before recommending them to students.
- Focus on the problem of sexting: Sexting has become a significant issue and has initiated conflicts among teenagers. Delve into the laws on sexting and ensure that the whole school staff is aware how to best handle the issue. Discuss it openly and honestly with students and parents. The probability of students indulging in risky behavior decreases if parents are open to them.
Home is where children receive their first education; therefore, educating parents about online safety is the best way to ensure that the students are aware of it as well. Teaching parents about the risks of inappropriate usage of the internet and getting them to talk to their children is an efficient way of ensuring that the students are safe both at home and at school. Here are a few tips for teaching parents about improving their family online safety:
- Spend time online with your children and explore different sites together.
- Help children use the internet in a valuable way, such as for research or gaining knowledge.
- Keep yourself updated with the changing times. Learn the basics about blogging, chatting, message boards, YouTube or anything that touches the nerve of the younger generation.
- Make your children aware of the dangers of interacting with strangers online.
- Share and discuss both your positive and negative experiences when using the internet.
- Encourage children to treat others in the same manner online as they would in real life. The golden rule applies online, too.
- Identify and understand the best ways to avoid falling victim to spam and phishing.
- Make your children aware of the dangers of providing personal details on the internet.
Supervision at Home
Start supervising the internet activities of your child and stay well informed.
- For younger children, place the home computer in the public area of the home where it is easily accessible by everyone.
- Talk about and create internet guidelines with your child regarding their duration of use, time of use and the consequences for not sticking to them.
- Stay informed about your child’s online activities.
- Talk to your child about cyberbullying before they are subjected to it as the victim or the culprit.
- Focus on safeguarding your personal information and your family’s private information.
To Sum Up
The virtual world has undoubtedly been a boon to the humanity in countless ways, but it has also been a bane in disguise. Our privacy has become more vulnerable to external attacks; so, it’s essential to battle cyber threats by keeping an open perspective and making it easier to communicate about the problems with one another. Discuss, educate and mostly empower yourselves to face the growing challenges of the virtual world by staying ahead in the game.
About the Author
Carol Lynn is a content writer at Assignments4u.com, an educational service website. She is also an avid blogger and expresses her thoughts on education, social media, public relations, brand management and marketing topics. She is a passionate writer of unique, well-researched content.