Internet usage in K-12 schools is higher than ever, especially amid the global pandemic that led to more online learning than ever before. As more kids are introduced to the worldwide web, it is the job of educators to teach them about internet safety. Many educators and parents wonder how to teach internet safety to students in an engaging and effective manner. Here are the top five ways to teach internet safety to students at school.
Talk about “Stranger Danger”
It is common that students learn about stranger danger as early as Kindergarten. Lessons often include the basics like don’t talk to people you don’t know when a trusted adult is not with you and don’t approach someone’s car if you do not recognize them, regardless of what they are offering you through the window. One of the ways to teach internet safety to children is to tie it into their lesson about stranger danger.
Teach children about strangers they may encounter online just as you teach them about strangers they may encounter in person. Children cannot make the connection on their own between a dangerous stranger asking them for directions through a car window and a dangerous stranger asking them for funny pictures on the internet. We have to make that connection for them and teach kids how to identify dangerous strangers online and what to do about it.
Teach Them to Keep Personal Information Quiet
Many adults understand there is danger in giving out personal information, such as credit card numbers and social security numbers, on unprotected sites or through an unsecured messenger. Students need to be taught this lesson, especially in high school when they may be opening their first bank accounts and starting their first jobs.
Start by teaching them what information qualifies as private, personal information and why they do not want to share it with people they do not know and trust. For example, they do not want to send their bank information to someone through a public chat forum because the person could access their money and steal it. It is important for students to know what type of personal information can be used against them, especially for children who are using the internet.
Use a Kid-Friendly Search Engine
Just as parents can set parental controls on computers children are using at home, teachers can adjust settings for computers being used at school. Blocking certain sites so students cannot play games or scroll on social media while they should be working is very popular in K-12 schools.
For classrooms using Google Workspace for Education, one of the easiest ways to protect and monitor students on the internet is with Safe Doc from xFanatical. Safe Doc is a Google Chrome extension allowing management of Google Workspace for Education features that Google Admin Console doesn't provide. Safe Doc protects your students from inappropriate content and prevents your students from misusing certain features to disrupt classrooms.
Talk about Cyberbullying
Arguably the greatest danger to students on the internet is cyberbullying. What makes cyberbullying so much more dangerous than traditional bullying is the fact there is no way to escape it. The bullies go home with students via phones and computers and they can humiliate students in front of a much larger audience than the school cafeteria.
It is important to talk with students about cyberbullying early in the hopes of preventing tragedy. Let students know they are not alone and teach them what to do if they are experiencing cyberbullying. Keep in mind that the bully is likely in your classroom, so do not be afraid to teach your students about the consequences of cyberbullying.
Teach Students How to Use Social Media Properly
When talking about how to teach internet safety to students, social media cannot be left out of the conversation. Kids are making social media profiles at younger ages and those sites can easily expose them to content and people that are inappropriate for their age. Teach students about the proper use of social media, connecting with peers, and highlight some of the ways social media is used incorrectly.
A lesson on social media usage can be tied into a lesson on stranger danger, as there are many strangers who will appear on a student’s social media. Social media also plays a significant role in cyberbullying problems and it is important to talk with students about how the two affect each otherTeaching Internet Safety to Students
When it really comes down to it, the internet and all that comes with it are still new to us as a society. There are no perfect lesson plans or full-proof online safety activities for students. Students’ capabilities on the computer are always evolving and the best any teacher can do is attempt to keep up and guide them in the right direction.