Picture of Jennifer Morris
Online Safety
by Jennifer Morris - Sunday, June 23, 2013, 9:03 PM
 

Hello Blue Group,

I decided to make my discussion topic one that I could potentially use with students at the beginning of an online classroom experience; therefore, feel free to respond to my prompt as either a student, parent, or teacher would answer (I think there’s value in hearing all these perspectives).

Looking forward to hearing from you,

Jenny

NetSmartz, a program from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, reports that 97% of adolescents between the ages of 12 and 17 use the Internet (http://www.netsmartz.org/InternetSafety).  Whether these teens are surfing the web, chatting with friends on social media sites, or posting photos to their blog, there are numerous risks involved with connecting with the world via the Internet.  NetSmartz specifically mentions cyberbullying, inappropriate content, online predators, and exposing too much personal information as some potential risks.

What are some of the biggest safety concerns that students should be aware of when using the Internet?  Feel free to expand upon the risks mentioned above or add your own.  What role do parents and teachers play in educating students about these concerns? 

 
Picture of Daniel Kovach
Re: Online Safety
by Daniel Kovach - Monday, June 24, 2013, 7:17 AM
 

Jenny, this is arguable one of the most important question regarding children and the Internet. As a parent, teacher, computer technician, and IT consultant, I believe online safety to be one of the most crucial and ignored topics by parents and schools in our culture.  I would regard the biggest safety concerns being, child predators, identity theft, ignorance of their digital footprint, accessing inappropriate material, and a profoundly distorted perception of information gathering (research) and critical thinking.

I have taught Information Assurance and Security (ITS 370) where we discuss these topics in a similar but deeper context.  Children make easy targets of online predators and identity thieves because they are naïve, most often not supervised, curious, ever-increasingly narcissistic (seemingly) often posting personal and very detailed information about themselves and family members, they feel empowered in a virtual world, and tend to feel falsely secure in the comfort of their homes.

With regard to identity thieves, they’re not looking for money and assets; they want the child’s identity and the clean credit that comes with it.  Children lack the protective measures most adults and people with wealth employ, such as credit verification and fraud protection on their bank accounts and lines of credit.  Young people who are victims of identity theft often realize what happened when they apply for a job, open a bank account or line of credit, get their license (apply for insurance), or fill out student loan applications.  The damage done to their identity is very time consuming and costly to clean up and often permanent.  This is a huge topic, but I’ll leave it here.

Dan / Washburn

Picture of Kristen Pham
Re: Online Safety
by Kristen Pham - Monday, June 24, 2013, 6:34 PM
 

Dan,

I really like how you described how kids feel empowered when they share personal information on the internet.  I hadn't thought about it this way before, but that makes a lot of sense. 

When you're talking about identity theft, what information specifically are kids providing?  Is it the traditional name, age, address, and phone number?  Are kids giving out credit card info and bank account info?  Is this in a chat or through websites or ads?  

Thanks for sharing your expertise!

Kristen Pham (Crystal Lake, IL)

Picture of Jennifer Morris
Re: Online Safety
by Jennifer Morris - Tuesday, June 25, 2013, 2:33 PM
 

Hi Kristen,

I am in no means an expert on this subject, but since I was the one to initially start this discussion about online safety I thought I would attempt to answer the question(s) you asked Dan.

I think that the type of identity theft that happens to our students definitely depends on their age.  As elementary school students, it's important for parents to make sure that their children’s' birth certificate, passport, and social security number info is secure.  As students progress into their teen years and are more active on social media sites they are at more of a risk of putting revealing information online that can be easily seen by others.  Finally, as students prepare to graduate from high school, many of them will have credit and debit cards so they need to be careful to keep that information secure. 

Alot of the information provided above came from the article "How to Protect Your Children from Identity Theft" (http://www.wikihow.com/Protect-Your-Child-from-Identity-Theft).  Dan, hopefully you can concur on these thoughts?

Jenny in Chicago

Picture of Kristen Pham
Re: Online Safety
by Kristen Pham - Wednesday, June 26, 2013, 11:24 AM
 

Jenny,

Thank you for the resource.  I never thought about keeping information from your child to keep them safe, but that definitely makes sense.  Eventually kids will need to know their SSN, but that's also the time when parents can explain how important that number is and that they should never share with anyone unless instructed to do so.  Thank you for the resource!

Kristen Pham (Crystal Lake, IL)

Picture of Jennifer Morris
Re: Online Safety
by Jennifer Morris - Tuesday, June 25, 2013, 2:22 PM
 

Hi Dan,

I appreciate that you, as an IT expert, recognize the importance of such a topic. It's interesting to note that you mentioned online safety is one of the most "ignored topics by parents and schools in our culture". Last year our school district heard a presentation from Sarah Migas, an Internet Safety Specialist from Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s office.  Since she is a former teacher and social worker, there was alot that we as teachers could take away from her presentation, but alot of us left feeling like she should have hosted a workshop for the parents in our school district as well.  Alot of the online risks you mentioned are things that happen when students are in the "safety" of their own homes.

Have you come across any workshops in either the school district in which you live or work that offer education for parents about online safety?  While I think it's important for us teachers to teach students about the potential dangers online, I think it's equally important for parents to be preaching the same things.

Jenny in Chicago

My daughter (15 months) and I!
Re: Online Safety
by Michelle Altenberger - Monday, June 24, 2013, 1:26 PM
 

What a great discussion topic!

What are some of the biggest safety concerns that students should be aware of when using the Internet?  

As a School Psychologist working in a large, suburban high school setting, I deal with issues related to the internet and safety on a very regular basis.  Some of the concerns I see too frequently include students revealing very personal information (e.g., pictures) to strangers and/or "significant others" via the internet.  It's a very sad intervention in these types of situations...from making the phone call home to parents, getting law enforcement involved when necessary, calling child protective services when necessary, and attempting to explain to our young student who may or may not have been a victim in the inappropriate exchanges.  I fear the scars from these situations may last forever.  

A second scenario that we sometimes deal with include situations where students get "involved" with strangers over the internet and strike up a romantic relationship.  Navigating teenage relationships are hard to deal with when you know the person, can see them, can meet their family, and understand where the come from.  The concerns, anxieties, and safety issues only seem to multiply when the relationship is with a person online - often someone our student has never personally met and only believes what is posted on the internet profile.  

What role do parents and teachers play in educating students about these concerns? 

We can't do enough to protect and educate our students and children about the safety issues with the internet.  I strongly encourage parents to know their child's username and password information to any and all social networking sites.  Computers should always be kept in the "family" living areas of a household so that parents can monitor use.  Conversations should be had on a very regular basis...daily if possible.  

Teachers can also reinforce the messages that parents give to their children about internet safety.  Classes can be taughts, posters hung, rules reinforced, etc.  

Information via the website Safe Teens can be used to help support conversations both at home and school.

Michelle - Pewaukee

Picture of Daniel Kovach
Re: Online Safety
by Daniel Kovach - Monday, June 24, 2013, 4:27 PM
 

Michelle, I can only imagine what you deal with.  I’m a big proponent of Cybersitter for home computers, and parents not giving into the social convention of every kid having a smart phone with a data plan.  Cybersitter has an impressive array of features that discourage inappropriate computer use and provide a safety net for kids and families. 

I am frustrated that our schools don’t focus more on (web safety) education and stick to more structured and relevant technology, especially usage during school hours.  I afraid students have unrealistic and quite often dangerous expectations when it comes to internet access and where they should be allowed to roam.

Dan / Washburn

My daughter (15 months) and I!
Re: Online Safety
by Michelle Altenberger - Tuesday, June 25, 2013, 8:25 PM
 

Thanks Dan!  I will absolutely be checking Cybersitter out...not only to recommend to the families I work with but also for my own personal use (especially as my 4 1/2 year old and almost-2-year-old grow into "tweens!").  

Michelle - Pewaukee

Family photo
Re: Online Safety
by Stacy Drinkwine Hauser - Tuesday, June 25, 2013, 8:12 PM
 

Michelle,

I could probably copy and paste your entire post and just agree/ Like everything you said. Yes, we need to have regular conversations! Yes, we need to reinforce that message about internet safety! We need to keep everyone informed! As it is said in Schoolhouse Rocks! Knoweledge is Power!

Michelle, and all, what are your suggestions about what we can do about the parents that are not coming to the meetings about internet safety, throwing away the literature that is sent home, and possibly living in denial about how involved their child is on the internet?

 

My daughter (15 months) and I!
Re: Online Safety
by Michelle Altenberger - Tuesday, June 25, 2013, 8:24 PM
 

Thanks Stacy!

I like the idea from Lori (below) about having students sign an internet use contract.  These could be posted throughout classrooms and reviewed regularly.

As far as parents not coming to meetings, etc., this is a never-ending problem that we seem to struggle with.  Is it possible to make the meetings mandatory?  If "devices" are allowed in the school building and/or "loaned" to students to use - maybe we could make a meeting mandatory prior to allowing the student to carry the device?  

Michelle - Pewaukee

Family photo
Re: Online Safety
by Stacy Drinkwine Hauser - Tuesday, June 25, 2013, 9:06 PM
 

Michelle,

I like your idea of a mandatory meeting before allowing the student to carry the device. We do have an internet use permission slip that parents must sign in order for the students to use the internet, or they are blocked. There is also a block for our students so that they can't be logged in to two computers at once. However, you get one student who is blocked, and his/her friend who gives him/her, his/her information to get on the internet, and as long as they are in different hours, they could get away with it. I guess, if a student is determined enough, they will find a way around the literal and figurative blocks. We just need to be as present as we can about internet safety.

Picture of Jennifer Morris
Re: Online Safety
by Jennifer Morris - Tuesday, June 25, 2013, 9:45 PM
 

Hi Michelle,

Although all the discussion you provided was informative - especially considering your background in psychology - my favorite part about your post was the link to the Safe Teens website. I thought it was especially beneficial because it includes advice/information for all three stakeholders I mentioned in my initial post – parents, teachers, and students themselves. It includes up-to-date information (such as safety with Snapchat and other “hot” apps), and I would definitely recommend this resource to any parents who are seeking information regarding online safety for their children.

Since it seems you've had alot of experience with students and specific online issues, what advice would you give to teachers who suspect that one of their students might be in a risky/unsafe online situation?

Thanks for sharing!

Jenny in Chicago

My daughter (15 months) and I!
Re: Online Safety
by Michelle Altenberger - Thursday, June 27, 2013, 12:52 PM
 

Hi Jenny,

My advice to teachers would be to make sure you communicate your concerns to the parents, using specific examples.  AND make sure you communicate your concerns on to the either a school counselor or the school psyschologist in your building so that they can introduce themselves to the student (if they haven't already met) and provide support as neeeded (ongoing meetings with the student, home contact, consulting with school staff, possible classroom presentation on the topic, etc.).  

Michelle - Pewaukee

Picture of Kristen Pham
Re: Online Safety
by Kristen Pham - Monday, June 24, 2013, 6:31 PM
 

Jenny,

We discussed this topic in my Rhetorical Analysis of Media class (senior elective) during a unit on the Internet.  I remember showing them parts of a documentary, but I can't remember which one it was -- perhaps Growing Up Online -- it was a PBS/Frontline documentary.

Anyway, the argument was that today's pre-teens and teens are smarter than kids of the '90s.  They aren't being lured as frequently by predators who are 50 or 60 year old men.  Kids are smart enough to know that when they show up at someone's house and it isn't an 18 year old, but someone who looks like their grandpa, they should turn and run.  However, they are being lured by men in their 20s and 30s much more frequently.  A 30-year-old man can say he's 20, and when the teen shows up, they can't necessarily tell he's older than 20.  Kids are a bad judge of age for men in their 20s and 30s.  Moreover, nothing good will come from a 14-year-old girl "meeting up" with a 30-year-old man.  I think parents and teachers need to caution teens about men in this age range because while teenagers might think they're "cool," if they were really that cool, they wouldn't be hanging around with middle or high school age students!

Moreover, in a similar documentary (or maybe the same one), it talked about cyberbullying leading to suicide.  They gave one example of a boy who was ridiculed at school, and then he came home, and instead of home being a safe place, it was an environment where the bullying continued.  Rather than telling an adult or a friend about the bullying, the student instead found a website where teens like him talked about ways to end their lives.  It was on that website that the boy learned how to tie the right not and ended up hanging himself.  Months after his death, his father broke into his son's laptop and found the websites he'd visited and the screen names of the other kids he'd talked to.  The dad contacted one boy's parents to let them know their son was on this website.  I think the most important thing for students to remember with cyberbullying is that they can't -- and shouldn't -- handle it alone.  They need to seek the help of adults.  Moreover, if students know someone who is being cyberbullied, that student has a moral obligation to tell an adult (teacher, counselor, social worker, parent, etc.).  Kids are finding themselves in these situations, but they aren't sure how to handle them unless we teach them those skills.

Kristen Pham (Crystal Lake, IL)

Picture of Jennifer Morris
Re: Online Safety
by Jennifer Morris - Tuesday, June 25, 2013, 10:12 PM
 

Hi Kristen,

Unfortunately cyberbulling is just one more issue that students today have to deal with that I couldn't even fathom when I was in high school. While it's optimistic to read the statistic that "today's pre-teens and teens are smarter than kids of the '90s", it seems like you can't go a month these days without hearing about another sad story of cyberbulling in the news.

In order to respond to your post, I went to the New York Times and searched "cyberbullying". I was astonished at the number of stories and comments that resulted (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/subjects/c/cyberbullying/index.html). The most recent article from May 8, 2013 reports on the "The Extent of Cyberbullying Among High School Students". The statistics are staggering, and the author poses an important question: "By identifying groups at higher risk for electronic bullying, it is hoped that targeted awareness and prevention strategies can be put in place" (American Academy of Pediatrics). 

Do you feel that there are specific groups within our high school that are at a higher risk for cyberbullying that that we should take extra caution with?

Jenny in Chicago

References: American Academy of Pediatrics. "The Extent Of Cyberbullying Among High School Students."Medical News Today. MediLexicon, Intl., 8 May. 2013. Web. 25 Jun. 2013 <http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/260136.php>

 

Picture of Kristen Pham
Re: Online Safety
by Kristen Pham - Wednesday, June 26, 2013, 11:32 AM
 

Jenny,

Thanks for the NYT resources.  I'm always amazed at the high number of occurances.  

In response to your question, yes, I think that kids who are loners/isolated are most at risk. I think a lot of the athletes or popular students with a strong social group are more likely to have others back them up if they are being picked on (strength in numbers).  However, the kids I worry about most are those kids who don't have a strong social group to go to for support and instead might resort to hurting themselves or someone else, like Amanda Todd from Canada who posted a video on YouTube as a cry for help and then later committed suicide (http://www.nydailynews.com/news/world/cyberbullied-teen-commits-suicide-article-1.1181875).  

I also worry about girls who might share compromising photos of themselves (sexting) because once those pictures are out there, there's really no way to remove them.  Look at the ordeal Erin Anderson from ESPN had to go through when someone took a video of her through her keyhole in her hotel room.  It turned into a lawsuit, and she won, but there were devestating longterm consequences for her (http://travel.usatoday.com/hotels/post/2010/07/espns-erin-andrews-files-suit-against-marriott-radisson-and-stalker/100089/1).    

Kristen Pham (Crystal Lake, IL)

Family photo
Re: Online Safety
by Stacy Drinkwine Hauser - Monday, June 24, 2013, 9:29 PM
 

Jennifer,

In the beginning of every year, we do an informative parent meeting about internet safety. It is unfortunate that it isn't mandatory. I feel many parents are just not aware of not only the dangers out there, but how technologically savvy their children are and how much of these dangers to which they have already been exposed.

Being a parent, of course my biggest concern if cyberbulling and child predators, as well as the unfathomable power of technology. As a teacher of high school students, we have had incidents where pictures were taken, charges were pressed, and lives were changed by the simple, thoughtless pressing of a button. I think of how I would feel and what would I do if I got that phone call about my son/daughter being in a situation that would completely alter their life like this. What could I do to make sure they don't make this mistake? I "preach" to my students about how a simple picture or posting of a  "party" can follow them for the rest of their lives and may determine whether or not they get accepted at a certain school or get the job they want.

I feel that parents and teachers play a major role in educating students about these concerns, especially due to the fact that many parents are in denial ("Not my child!") about the technology to which their child has access.

Internet safety should be reinforced repeatedly. It should start when they are introduced to "Stranger Danger" in kindergarten.

How many of us have seen adults give their children their I-Pad as a pacifier? The older the kid, the more curious, and the more clever they get about gaining access.

We could put blocks on everything we can, but if a kid is determined enough, they will find a way. It is only by becoming actively knowledgeable of the dangers out there, that parents, teachers, and children will be prepared to make good choices regarding internet safety.

Picture of Jennifer Morris
Re: Online Safety
by Jennifer Morris - Thursday, June 27, 2013, 10:51 PM
 

Hi Stacy,

When reading your response a few independent thoughts came to mind (which is why I will address them each separately below):

1) Technology today is not the same as technology was when the parents of our students were growing up - This point crossed me when reading your statement that parents are not aware of how tech savvy their students really are.  I bet half the parents out there don't even know what SnapChat is let alone how it works and the potential dangers that could come from it. When I was a high school student, parents at least could know a bit more about what you were doing online if the computer was in a public place in the house, but now students have the Internet right at their fingertips so obviously they're doing things that parents can't see. 

2) Why don't more teachers have parents and students sign an Internet code of conduct? - In addition to handing out my syllabus at the beginning of the school year, I also have parents and students read through and sign a Flinn safety contract since we're in a science lab.  Over the past few years I've even quizzed my students on specifics of the syllabus and safety contract.  Thankfully our school district has an Internet code of conduct, but why haven't I included questions from that document on my quiz? 

3) Unfortunately parents seem to be in denial about the fact that their child could be the victim of cyberbullying and/or child predators AND they are probably in denial about the fact that their child could be the perpetrator in such situations - I think that it's important to educate students and parents about online safely so that children don't find themselves in either of these situations. It's obvious that students need to be educated so that they don't talk to 50 year old strangers online, but it's of equal importance to education about their digital footprint and the fact that everything they write/do online can be seen by someone else out there in the world.

4) (My favorite part of your response) When writing my initial post I had actually considered including a question about whether or not you think online safety is something that can be taught just once or if it should be spiraled into our educational system so students hear it continually - I one hundred percent agree that internet safety should be reinforced repeatedly.  At each stage in an adolescent's life there are different levels of involvement and therefore risk online. Lessons about online safety should be therefore taught at developmentally appropriate times (for example, you don't necessary need to warn a 7 year old about the dangers in giving out credit card information online).

Thanks for your input!

Jenny in Chicago

Picture of Naomi Orlovsky
Re: Online Safety
by Naomi Orlovsky - Friday, June 28, 2013, 5:55 PM
 

Jenny,

I don't necessarily disagree with you, but I'm going to have a go with the oppositional discussion response method and play devil's advocate here for a moment.

In one of the Love and Logic workshops I attended, they reinforced the fact that we need to treat our students respectfully and acknowledge that they are intelligent enough to hear us once and understand the rule.  Their example was based around a child who was not doing something that they were asked to do. They reminded us that as long as the child was able to hear the first time, that is all it should take to understand that direction.  (Obviously, this wouldn't necessarily apply to a child with special needs.)  Consequences needed to be reinforced after the first time they were asked to do something.  Their point was that students and teachers should not be required to repeat their directions multiple times and that it was a disservice to the intelligences of both the teacher/parent and the student/child when directions were repeated.  In essence you were taking the responsibility back upon yourself and calling your child unintelligent, when in fact they were not unintelligent, just unmotivated or demonstrating a behavioral issue.

I was also reflecting on the typical student/child response to instructions or conversations that are repeated on a regular basis.  Their typical response to:  "Did you hear me?" would include much head nodding, but no responsive action.  The point Jim and Charles Fay make is a good one.

Shouldn’t once be enough?  Do you think that repetitive reminders may decrease responsible independence and place the responsibility of Internet safety on the shoulders of our teachers instead of the students?  Are we shutting our students off with repetitive reminders?  It is definitely something to ponder.  Perhaps, we don’t need repetitive reminders, but we need one demonstration of the natural consequences that can occur.

The Fay’s are big advocates of natural consequences and how effective they can be in teaching important issues.  Now, obviously we would not wish any of the natural consequences of Internet Safety on any of our students, but perhaps a video that shows the natural consequences may be more effective than just stating what you should and shouldn't do to keep yourself safe.  Do you think this video that demonstrates the consequences of the lack of Internet Safety would be an effective one-time YouTube video to share in your class?

Naomi O. @ Wisconsin

Picture of Lori Amsellem
Re: Online Safety
by Lori Amsellem - Monday, June 24, 2013, 9:33 PM
 

Hi Jenny,

This is such an important topic that demands much attention and should not to be taken lightly. A safety concern I have is more on the technical side of the issue, though it still relates to the safety concerns, and that is the use of free Wi-Fi to access the internet. With the huge popularity of using free Wi-Fi, safety concerns become even more worrisome. Not all free Wi-Fi connections are secure which means people are vulnerable and their security threatened. It is important to be aware of the dangers of free Wi-Fi and to learn ways to protect ourselves and lower the risks. The website,OnGuardOnline.gov, a federal government website, has some good tips and information to help become more safe and secure with Wi-Fi.

Parents and teachers should play a big role in educating students about these concerns. Having children and students sign an internet use contract can help. Sample contracts can be found online to use or modify to fit your needs. (Examples of Family Online Safety Contracts. Find examples to illustrate the dangers via television shows, videos and real life stories to emphasize the necessity of internet safety and have a discussion. Of the utmost importance, is having an open and non-judgmental line of communication.

Lori

 

Picture of Jennifer Morris
Re: Online Safety
by Jennifer Morris - Thursday, June 27, 2013, 11:04 PM
 

Hi Lori,

Of all the responses to my initial post, I found yours to be the most applicable to my own safety. Like many people, I have often logged onto an unsecure, free Wi-Fi connection just because I needed to quickly send an email or download that file and couldn’t use my own internet connection for whatever reason. In today's society we've become so accustomed to instant gratification, that if we need to do something instantly on the internet we'll often sign in to an unsecure connection without thinking twice about it.  A safety tip such as this is one that's great to share with students and adults alike.

I also love how you provided a sample safety contract for us to see. In my response to Stacy, I commented how I would like include questions from an internet safety contract on a quiz for my students at the beginning of the school year.  The contracts provided on your example webpage are a bit elementary for my students, but do you have suggestions of any age appropriate questions I could ask my students on online safety quiz?

Jenny in Chicago

Picture of Lori Amsellem
Re: Online Safety Contracts
by Lori Amsellem - Friday, June 28, 2013, 12:18 PM
 

Hi Jenny,

Here is a link to a website called Pure Sight:Online Child Safety which has some good information about online safety. The link below goes directly to the page where they list some contracts that are available online. Hopefully you can find one or be able to take things from them to create your own.

http://puresight.com/Useful-tools/family-online-safety-contract.html

Lori

Picture of Becky Mather
Re: Online Safety
by Becky Mather - Wednesday, June 26, 2013, 4:17 PM
 

As a parent of three adult children, I am glad that the Internet was in its infancy when the older two were growing up. I didn't need one more thing to keep track of with those boys! Parents are often the last people to know what their children are up to-  we prefer to blissfully think that our little angels will do no wrong deliberately. Too many parents that purchase iPads or laptops for their kids and shoo them away to entertain themselves or to do homework. (Right!)  It doesn't help that kids are frequently more tech-savvy than their parents. Schools can't do it all- I think parents have a tremendous responsibility to monitor/set limits on what their children are doing online.

My 3 1/2 year-old granddaughter has an iPad which she loves. My job is to take her outside and encourage her to play in the yard and get dirty!

Before computers, it was television-

Becky/Sturgeon Bay

Picture of Jennifer Morris
Re: Online Safety
by Jennifer Morris - Thursday, June 27, 2013, 11:12 PM
 

Hi Becky,

You're exactly right that each generation of parents has their own technology issues and concerns to deal with.  It's just crazy to think what our students will have to educate their own children about when their turn comes around!

If you were, however, raising your three children in today's world of cyberbullying, child predators, and credit card fraud, what would be the most important safety tip you would give to them?

Personally, I do not yet have children, but if I did and I had tell them one very important safety reminder it would be to always talk to me or another trusted adult if you come in contact with anything or anyone on the Internet that you think is bad/wrong. This type of warning is actually on a lot of the safety contract that Lori provided a link to in her post.

Jenny in Chicago

Skip Navigation

Navigation