On the first day of computer class or at least in the first week, the teacher has a duty to review Internet safety with students. Don’t assume that children are hearing about Internet safety from their parents. There are four main points that should be discussed. They are privacy, Internet life vs. real life, rules, and fact verses fiction. Each one is described in detail below so you can discuss them with your students.
1. Privacy: Have students come up with a user name right then and there. A user name is any name that is not your real name. It can have letters or numbers in it. It can have a combination of the two. Share with children your online nickname and maybe give them a few as examples.
Explain to students that there is never a time where it is okay for them to post their real identity. No matter how much an Internet friend asks for the students real identity, they are not to give it out. Some other information they should know is it is dangerous to give out is their address, address of the school, friend’s names, phone number, family members names, or addresses of nearby locations. Remind children that there are people online who are not what they seem and they are just lurking and waiting to find a child to hurt.
2. Internet vs. Real Life: Students should understand that they are never to meet someone online in real life. On the Internet they can be their user name. That is separate from who they are in real life and the same goes for the person at the other end. Anyone who wants to meet in real life is almost certainly someone who is out to harm you or has some really bad intentions. If another user tries to pressure a student in to meeting them in real life just remind the students that they are the ones with the power. If they keep all of their information private this person has no power to hurt them.
3. Rules: Students should be clear about the rules of the Internet in the school. They may have some rules at home as well, but your responsibility is how they use the computers while they are on school grounds. Talk to students about the time limits they have, what sites are permissible for them to go on, and what topics they are allowed to research. Students should be clear that they are not allowed to visit any porn sites or adult sites. This should be spelled out for them. Write out all of the rules and print out a copy for each student. Have them look over the rules and sign that they understand the rules. This is your agreement with them and it is important that they hold up their end of the deal or they will have to face the consequences including having their parents called.
4. Fact verses Fiction: Students should be told that half of the things they are going to find online are not true. There are scams out there, people gossiping about others, and websites that are just full of lies. There have even been blogs set up by students to make fun of other students. Make sure your students know this type of behavior is unacceptable and that students have no right to publish any information that is not a fact. If a student is not sure whether what they are reading is the truth or not they should be encouraged to seek out an adult for verification.
If a student has taken this safety course then they should be well aware of the dangers associated with the Internet. They can steer clear of trouble and still be able to access all of the information the Internet offers which is invaluable in doing school projects.