Parents are over-confident about Internet Safety

Parents are over-confident about Internet Safety

This article from The Guardian has been sitting in my inbox now for about a month. Waiting mostly for me to calm down so I can write about this halfway intelligently. Let’s start with this: Andy Phippen, professor of social responsibility at Plymouth University, said sexting – where schoolchildren are encouraged to take explicit photographs of themselves and send to other pupils – was a problem in most schools, despite the study revealing that 89% of parents believe their child has not been touched by cyberbullying or sexting. “There is a disconnect between how safe parents think they can keep their children online and their actual ability to do that,” Phippen said. “Those conversations are not being had – we have a hell of a long way to go on internet safety. In schools we hear teachers unwilling to talk to teenagers about sexual images because they worry about their jobs, schools unwilling to record instances of cyberbulling because they are worried about their Ofsted reports.” Now add this: AVG security expert Tony Anscombe said half of the parents consider a school’s internet safety policy when making their selection, and 95% thought online safety should be mandatory in schools. “We know parents take responsibility of online safety seriously […] yet we’re not living up to the standards we’re setting by avoiding conversations about exposure to explicit adult content, privacy or other Internet-related threats,” he said. “It comes as no surprise then that nearly 90% of parents aren’t aware of whether their child has been exposed to cyberbullying or sexting – two of the most common internet risks facing children.” So where do we go from here? Well it should start with conversations both at home and at school. However, conversations at school are hard when the sites that we need to have the conversations about are blocked and do not allow us to teach about them. When we don’t face websites like Facebook head on, we allow them to become places of Cyberbullying. You want to help decrease cyberbullying on Facebook? UNBLOCK it! Not one school that I have talked to has said that cyberbullying has increased once Facebook was unblocked. Instead cyberbullying decreases because: We have shined a light on the dark corner We can now talk about it in school We can use it and show students how powerful of a tool it can be as well as how dangerous...

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Fourth Graders know

So I still have Shirky’s post running through my head. Here’s something four-year-olds know: A screen that ships without a mouse ships broken. Here’s something four-year-olds know: Media that’s targeted at you but doesn’t include you may not be worth sitting still for. Those are things that make me believe that this is a one-way change. Because four year olds, the people who are soaking most deeply in the current environment, who won’t have to go through the trauma that I have to go through of trying to unlearn a childhood spent watching Gilligan’s Island, they just assume that media includes consuming, producing and sharing. When today I head into a 4th grade class to talk about cyber safety (the school counselor talked me into it 😉 ). As we were wrapping up I asked the kids, “How old do you think the Internet is?” “50?”“20?” Counselor: “What!” laughing “No way!” “15?” Me: “Well actually the web as we know it today got started in 1996.” Students:“What! That’s it?”“No Way!” Every student but one has their own cell phoneEvery student raised their hand when I asked if they go on the Internet at least once a week.Every student has an mp3 player To reword Shirky from above: Here’s something fourth graders know: Media is free, content is free, it’s always been that way. Here’s something fourth graders know: Information that’s targeted at you but doesn’t include you may not be worth sitting still for. Those are things that make me believe that this is a one-way change. Because fourth graders, the students we’re teaching are soaking most deeply in the current environment, who won’t have to go through the trauma that we have to go through of trying to unlearn a childhood spent watching (Insert favorite sitcom), they just assume that information is consumable, producible and sharable. And that’s just the way it is! What interested me the most is in all six of the classes, as soon as I start talking about technology they all get that look….teachers know the one…..the one of complete attention, of wanting to know and wanting to share what they know. We talk about all their favorite sites, we talk about who has this gaming console and who has that one. We talk about cell phones…and when they are really excited, we talk about staying safe on the web. What do you share,...

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Student Information Online

I share with you and e-mail I sent out to the staff at my school today. Yes, I know that most of what I write would not fly in your school/district. But then again, we are a private international school…things just work differently here, and that’s a good thing! I strongly believe that international education will change and adapt faster than any public system. What slows us down is the larger educational system (colleges, SAT, IB, AP, etc).But I do believe we are the front runners for change because at times we’re allowed to out run ourselves.Question: What is the school’s policy on using student names and pictures on the Internet? Answer: A question that has been coming up more and more as we put more and more information online is what is the school’s policy. I will do my best to keep this short. The school does not have a policy at this time about what and how we handle student information on the web. The “unwritten rule” use to be that we did not put students names with pictures on the web. Last year the communication department started putting Parent Talk online in the form of a PDF and Google at the same time release an update that allowed it to search PDF documents. So at the highest levels within SAS we have been discussing this very issue. Where do we draw the line? As more and more research comes out on just how NOT dangerous the Internet is we’ll have to look at how we protect our students. New York Times: How Dangerous Is the Internet for Children? APA: Internet Predator Stereotypes Debunked in New StudyFor example, in spite of public concern, the authors found that adolescents’ use of popular social networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook do not appear to increase their risk of being victimized by online predators. Rather, it is risky online interactions such as talking online about sex to unknown people that increases vulnerability, according to the researchers. What we do know is that there are a couple little things we can do that will keep students safe and at the same time allow them to be acknowledged on the Internet (which is what they want, what they demand in their digital world). 1. Do not post personal informationStudents and teachers should not post personal information on the Internet. Street address,...

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