With the Internet becoming an integral part of many teacher’s curriculum, taking the time to correctly teach safe online surfing is of vital importance. Here are some sobering statistics: two-thirds of Internet users fall victim to cybercrime, online harassment has grown 50% in five years and continues to increase, and slightly more than one-third of youth surveyed were exposed to unwanted sexual material while online (Lucas, 2013).
As technology continues to become a more integral part of students’ lives, making sure that all members within school environments are well versed in appropriate use and digital citizenship will be an imperative (Ribble & Miller, 2013). Many school districts and schools simply block or restrict access to web sites. This may keep students safe at school, but what happens when these students have access through a friend’s cell phone or tablet that is not restricted? The classroom is an ideal place to really teach students the importance of safe online surfing. Blocking and restricting websites doesn’t help students in the long run, but teaching them how to be safe online enables them to practice good habits for their entire life (Lucas, 2013). Teaching online safety is really just about providing students with knowledge. This addresses component one of ISTE Standard 5: demonstrate personal responsibility for lifelong learning.
The online article The Teacher’s Guide to Online Learning lists several strategies to teach safe online surfing. One of the most important strategies listed in this article is to get the parents involved. Educating parents on the dangers of inappropriate usage and encouraging them to talk to their children about it is an effective way to ensure that students are safe online, both at school and at home (Lucas, 2013). One way that teachers can get parents involved is sending home a short fact sheet that includes information on the importance of online safety and ways to communicate with their children about online safety.
There are many different resources for teachers to educate themselves and their students about how to safely surf online. Common Sense Media and PBS Kids Webonauts Internet Academy are both excellent resources for elementary school teachers and students. Emailing parents a link to these sites to review with their children at home is also a good way to get the parents involved.
While most elementary school physical education teachers will not have any online surfing in their curriculum, it will still be important for them to reinforce the importance of online safety with their students. For example, a physical education teacher could discuss a few key online safety tips while surfing for a YouTube video on a fitness activity in front of the class.
Lucas, R. (2013). The Teacher’s Guide to Online Learning, eLearning Industry. Retrieved from https://elearningindustry.com/the-teacher-guide-to-keeping-students-safe-online.
Ribble, M. & Miller, T.N. (2013). Educational Leadership in an Online World: Connecting Students to Technology Responsibly, Safely, and Ethically. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 17:1 (2013): 137-45.