To get me started on this post, I asked Zach the question, “If I don’t teach my students how to use the internet safely, who will?.” His answer was what I had expected, “Hopefully their parents?” Although talks with my students have revealed that many parents are doing a fantastic job of teaching their children how to use the internet safely, many parents aren’t. It might be a mixture of parents lacking in technology skills themselves and not really knowing what potential dangers are out there, because they aren’t interested in using the same media as their children.
I remember going to whole school assemblies as an elementary school student and watching a police officer drop a watermelon twice. Once with a helmet on and once without. Although my parents wouldn’t dream of letting me ride my bike without a helmet, I learned that day that some of my friends’ parents were much more relaxed. The picture below is from an awesome looking science fair that tested out which helmets worked the best!
Watching the watermelon split open not only potentially saved lives by giving new information to many kids, but highlighted and legitimized the information nagging parents gave to others. I think it’s time we do the same for students with technology.
Technology will be (if it isn’t already) a huge influence in the lives of all of our students. Common Sense Media found that eight to twelve year olds spent an average of over four and a half hours and thirteen to eighteen year olds spent and average of over six and a half hours on screen media every day. This excludes time spent at school or doing homework.
That is an incredible amount of time. What exactly are they doing? A mixture of watching TV shows, movies, and online videos, playing video games, computer games, and mobile (tablet or phone) games, using social media and browsing the Internet.
So, how many parents are talking to their kids about internet safety and how closely are these kids being monitored during all this time? Here’s where the data is really interesting. Although most parents are working to monitor their children’s media use, many aren’t.
“Over half (53 percent) of teens and 72 percent of tweens say their parents have talked with them about how much time they can spend with media. But even more young people (66 percent of teens and 84 percent of tweens) say their parents have spoken with them about the content of the media they use. Most young people say their parents know “a lot” or at least “some” about the types of media content they use (e.g., which shows they watch or games they play), but 25 percent of teens who go online say their parents know only “a little” or “nothing” about what they do or say online, and 30 percent say the same about the social media they use.“
– Executives Summary Census from Common Sense Media
This is scary. 34% of teens and 16% of tweens surveyed aren’t spoken to about the content of the media they use. We need to do something about that.
Where should we start? I feel like I’m running a free add for Common Sense Media, but they are a really good resource. They have tools to start conversations with your kids for families, information for teachers on how to meaningfully connect with families, edtech reviews, loads of research and even a full scope and sequences for digital citizenship that teachers can use for different age groups starting at kindergarten.
I’ve started teaching using the digital citizen lesson plans with my class and they have brought up some great conversations already. We were talking about how we never talk to strangers online and a few of my seven year olds told stories about strangers messaging them while they played online games.
Do you agree teachers need to take on the responsibility of teaching internet safety? Have you done this in your class? Do you have any other good resources? Please comment below.
6 thoughts on “Internet Safety: If You Don’t Teach it, Who Will?”
A very interesting post. Certainly, this is something that needs to be brought into schools as regular curriculum, like sex ed.
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Thank you, Saurab. I completely agree!
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A great post and an important topic. I totally agree that teaching digital citizenship is the role of any teacher, and not just on “Internet Safety Day” or any other one-off event. Of course, it’s the job of parents as well but we can’t assume that they are getting it. Even if they are, it will benefit the students to hear consistent messages from home and school.
To take it a step further, I really recommend reading Social LEADia by Jennifer Casa-Todd. She encourages teachers and students to move beyond digital citizenship and towards digital leadership (using tech to make a positive impact somehow). A refreshing book about the positives of social media in particular!
Hi Adam! Thanks for the comment. I agree, trying to teach internet safety in one- off lessons isn’t going to be enough. Thank you for the book recommendation, I will check it out!
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