With the emergence of the internet as a platform for the sharing of information, comes a need to thoroughly teach children about internet safety and to prepare them to appropriately utilize this resource. Students need to know how to safely search for information, how to evaluate the validity of resources, how to handle online interactions with others, and how to generally “stay safe” on the internet. I view this as a vital component of preparing my students to be technologically savvy learners. Most teachers are fabulous at teaching state mandated standards. But, I think teaching internet safety and appropriate usage is more of a challenge, especially at the elementary school level. The internet is ever changing, and there are endless “what if” and “if…then…” situations that children need to be aware of and prepared for encountering. I think as teachers, we must talk about the potential internet hazards and how to handle them, share engaging resources that support and facilitate internet safety, and monitor student usage closely. In researching, I found several resources that could be used to help prepare younger students to be safe connoisseurs of the internet. The first is NetSmartz Kids, which has animated videos, games, and safe internet tips specifically designed for children. It’s interactive, engaging, and will provide students important information in a fun way. The FBI also has a great section for children’s safety, with the internet being an important component. It has an interactive comic strip, important safety tips, and other interactive features to keep children safe. Finally, I found a more blog-type resource, SafeKids, which addresses internet safety for elementary, middle, and high school aged students. Everything from cyber bullying to netiquette is included on this site. This is one that is great for parents, teachers, and students. Ultimately, all these resources have one goal, to help students safely and appropriately use the amazing resources of the internet.
We must prepare our students to be active, safe, and healthy users of the World Wide Web!