Whether we like to admit to it or not, the internet as we know it is an addictive portal that has sucked us all in, Yes! Through our desktops, laptops, tablets and mobile phones we are connected 24/7 with people, stories, news and rapid content constantly at our reach. On any regular school day, take a brief stroll down the school corridor and you will find that you are brushed past a group of students chattering about Tweets and Snaps posted by their friends or celebrities online the night before.
A large and growing percentage of internet users are made up of school students of all ages, and with parents becoming more lax their children are granted unrestricted access to the internet and its social media platforms. This poses huge safety issues for these children who are unprepared for the vices lurking on the internet. It has therefore become increasingly evident that internet safety must be taught to these students in order to protect and properly prepare them to handle common safety issues that occur on the internet.
Do you have school programs or lessons targeted at teaching students internet safety at your school? Are you planning to introduce these lessons to your classrooms? If so read on, we have identified three core aspects of internet safety you can teach your students today.
The status update has got us all. There are the short and sweet ones, the long passionate rants, the breakfast posts and many others that keep our followers updated on our progress through our daily routines. However innocent these may be, some of these status updates could be feeding miscreants with critical information to be used against the poster. Students often post status updates regarding their current location, where they live as well as specifics about their travel plans – where they are going, how long thy will be there and if they are traveling alone. This is vital information for potential kidnappers or sex offenders who then draw up their plans with information gathered from the victim’s status updates.
Students must be taught to sensor the information they share on social media, and must try as much as possible to post about their travels or places visited after the visit, never before or during. They can support this by changing automatic location settings on their social media accounts. They can also adjust their social media settings to ensure that it is only specific trusted friends on their followers list that are able to view their information and sensitive updates.
Also as we teach these students in the real world not to talk to strangers, these same rules should apply online where they are advised not to accept friend requests from strangers and to try to verify suspicious accounts before accepting requests.
At one point or the other we have all been greeted by malicious pop-ups that show up on our webpages. These pop-ups usually offer freebies and discounts that require submission of personal details in order to access them. If you are unfortunate enough to fall victim and you end up sharing your private information such as name, address, date of birth, passwords or even credit card details, you have opened yourself up to identity theft. This sensitive information can be used to access your private email, your social media accounts and most importantly your bank accounts.
Most students do not understand the gravity of the repercussions that come with identity theft, and are usually naïve when it comes to assessing safe websites and their enticing. When left to their own devices they freely give up not only their personal information but that of their parents and family members as well.
To prevent this from happening, it is important that students are taught the difference between sensitive private information and public shareable information. They must also know how to identify secured connections and only perform financial transactions through these secured sites. They must also be taught how to craft secure passwords that are not created out of obvious sources such as date of birth, pet names and personal names.
Bullying in all forms has been around since the beginning of human relations, and it spreads across all age brackets extending even to adults! Once an act that was confined to break rooms and playgrounds, bullying has found its way online with children attacking and demeaning each other on social media platforms. With the wide reach of the internet these acts are shared rapidly at the click of a button with students and complete strangers in multiple locations, thereby exposing the victim to an onslaught of attacks from multiple bullies. This affects student behavior negatively in many ways and has led to withdrawal from school, depression and worse, suicide.
In this internet age, it is important that schools educate students on the extreme consequences of cyber-bullying; and though it is almost impossible to police and supervise students online, it is important that teachers keep communication doors open to students who complain or show signs of bullying. Students must also be taught and encouraged to report cyber-bullies to the website or social media admin pages, to ensure that miscreants are banned and their pages deactivated. Students must also be taught not to promote, like or share any act of cyber-bullying online.
Internet safety is an important area that must be addressed by caregivers in this digital world that we find ourselves and our students in. School administrators can adopt any of the discussed solutions and also go the extra mile by designing posters and educative materials to keep these safety rules in constant reach of their students. How is your school tackling internet safety? Let us know in the comments below.
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