As a teacher, it is your responsibility to ensure the safety and well-being of your students. This used to just involve keeping your classroom door locked and keeping tabs on how many students you allowed to leave your room at a time. However, in today’s digital age and with the ever-changing educational environment, the use of the internet can pose serious dangers for students. As many educational opportunities and benefits that the internet offers, there are probably just as many problems and controversies that exist with internet use. It is a teacher’s duty to provide a safe learning environment for students. Therefore, teachers must be aware of the risks involved with internet use in the classroom. When planning a lesson that involves internet use, teachers should educate and prepare their students ahead of time on the acceptable uses and expectations involved. The following list provides teachers with a few guidelines for to follow when integrating the use of internet in their curriculum. (Cannaday, B., Neugent, L., McGraw, T., et al., 2007) (Morris, 2012)
- Educate yourself on the Acceptable Use Policy of your school and the ways in which the internet is being used by your students.
- Internet use should be tailored to the student age group.
- Student technological interactions in the virtual world can be negative and spill over into the real world.
- Be aware of the issue of cyberbullying and take any reports of this by parents or students seriously.
- Teach students about proper netiquette.
- Students need to hear the rules often.
- Be clear and consistent with the expectations of students in regards to internet use.
- Maintain open communication with students to encourage them to tell you about any problems they may experience.
- Maintain your digital reputation.
- Choose secure, smart passwords and usernames.
- Don’t friend or socialize with students on social media outside of the classroom.
- Monitoring is crucial.
- Limit time and availability.
- Place computers in a location that you can watch them surf the web.
Students need to be educated on the threats that exist on the World Wide Web. Young people can be very naïve to the ways of the world and need to be taught how to protect themselves and treat others online. Unfortunately, the trusting nature of children can be detrimental online if kids are not aware of the dangers of predators and identity thieves that are present in the vast arena of the internet. Students also need to be careful with how they treat their peers on social media and instant messaging; they need to understand that what they type cannot be taken back and that their words can have a lasting impact on someone else. Cyberbullying and netiquette should be talked about openly and extensively by teachers and parents alike. Finally, students should be taught about plagiarism and how to use internet resources appropriately. They should understand that plagiarizing is a serious offense, no different that stealing, and is never tolerated by their school. The following list provides students with a few tips for using the internet in a safe and appropriate manner. (Cannaday, B., Neugent, L., McGraw, T., et al., 2007) (Knorr, 2012)
- The Internet is a powerful tool that should be used wisely.
- Visit age-appropriate, educational sites
- Students need to know that not all Internet information is valid or appropriate.
- Think about what you read and where you find it.
- Students should be taught specifically how to maximize the Internet’s potential while protecting themselves from potential abuse.
- Report suspicious behavior
- Never give out personal information
- Internet messages and the people who send them are not always what or who they seem.
- Be aware of the lack of privacy
- Never chat with someone you don’t know
- Never open an email from someone you don’t know
- Predators and cyberbullies anonymously use the Internet to manipulate students. Students must learn how to avoid dangerous situations and get adult help.
- Be careful of what you say and how you say it
- Practice good Netiquette
- Students need to know which internet activities are safe and legal.
- If you wouldn’t do it in real life, you shouldn’t do it online.
These guidelines should help teachers and students when they are using the internet in school. When used in an appropriate manner, the internet offers opportunities and capabilities that most educators never dreamed possible. It is a shame that there are so many risks and dangers associated with its use. Due to the nature of this technology however, we educators must look out for the safety of our students. “Issues such as cyber bullying, sexting and plagarism are only going to become more prominent as children’s access to technology continues to increase. It’s so important that teachers are equipped to teach about these issues as a preventative measure and follow-up issues as they occur” (Morris, 2012).
For more information regarding internet safety please visit the following sites for wonderful resources for students, teachers and parents.
Internet Safety Grade Appropriate Resources: http://illinoisattorneygeneral.gov/children/Grade_Appropriate_Resources_Grades_9_12.pdf
Netsmartz Workshop: http://www.netsmartz.org/Educators
Virginia DOE Guidelines and Resources for Internet Safety: http://www.doe.virginia.gov/support/safety_crisis_management/internet_safety/guidelines_resources.pdf
Get NetWise: http://www.getnetwise.com/
Knorr, C. (2012). “Internet Safety Tips for Middle School Kids.” Retrieved on March 14, 2014 from http://www.commonsensemedia.org/blog/internet-safety-tips-for-middle-school-kids.
Morris, K. (2012). “10 Internet Use Tips for Teachers.” Retrieved on March 14, 2014 from http://primarytech.global2.vic.edu.au/2012/10/18/10-internet-use-tips-for-teachers/.
Cannaday, B., Neugent, L., McGraw, T., et al. (2007). Guidelines and Resources for Internet Safety in Schools for Virginia DOE’s Division of Technology and Career Education. Retrieved on March 14, 2014 from http://www.doe.virginia.gov/support/safety_crisis_management/internet_safety/guidelines_resources.pdf.