According to Netsmartz.org, 93 percent of teens (ages 12-17) go online, and 75 percent have cell phones. On average, texting teens send and receive 1500 text messages each month, and one in three teens experience online harassment.
Because of these statistics, schools have enlisted their teachers to teach proper technology use.
At Divine Savior Academy, the middle school computer class spends two weeks covering online safety and responsibility in the areas of Digital Citizenship, Internet Safety, and Cyberbullying.
Children need to be taught to be a positive part of the online “community.”
As children interact online and make use of Internet resources, they must learn to do it in a responsible way.
Being a responsible citizen means conducting proper online research, teaching children to verify all sources, and encouraging students to use academic sources, rather than those that are opinion-based or biased. Cite all sources and avoid plagiarism.
Spoof websites, phishing emails, and pop-up ads abound online. Help children to identify these tricks and scams. Never give out personal or account information to unknown sources. Stay away from these dangerous sites by double checking the address of all websites.
With the increased popularity of social media, the push to “overshare” information is tempting. Teach children what information is appropriate to share and what must be kept private so they do not put themselves in danger of online predators.
If children are using social media, “friend” them or follow their feed. Keep tabs on their activity and intervene when necessary.
Encourage students to post only pictures and posts that are appropriate. If a picture or posting is deleted, it does not mean that it is gone. Search engines cache or store old versions of websites, while other Internet users download and save content locally. Negative pictures and postings may affect future college acceptance and employment.
Bullying online is just as harmful as bullying in person. Children can be hurt easily. “Friends” or followers who view that information only add fuel to the fire. Cyberbullying harms relationships, causes problems in and out of school, and may lead to more dire situations, sometimes involving law enforcement.
Encourage your children to “THINK” before they post by asking themselves these questions: (1) Is it true? (2) Is it helpful? (3) Is it inspiring? (4) Is it necessary? (5) Is it kind?
For more information about Internet safety, online responsibility or cyberbullying, contact Michael Babler at Divine Savior Academy, 305-597-4545.