You don’t have to look far to find examples of the importance of talking to students about online safety and digital citizenship. Bullying and gossiping aren’t new behaviors for tweens and teens, but the technology tools at their disposal are. For teachers, parents and guardians, trying to stay on top of the latest tools for social interaction can be a bit like playing digital Whack-a-Mole. By the time you’ve become aware of a social media platform, your students may have already moved onto the next.
Cyberbullying and other associated behaviors online are a serious concern for schools and districts. Though the behavior often starts online, the repercussions spill over into the physical space of the school. There are a number of things that schools, teachers, administrators and families can do to combat this issue and help kids stay safe online.
Becoming familiar with the tools students are using is a good first step, but it’s also important to recognize that whether students are using Instagram, Kik, Ask.fm, YouTube, Facebook, or SnapChat, the essentials of being a responsible online citizen are the same. Your students are tasked with navigating an online world, and learning how to create safe, healthy and respectful digital spaces for themselves. Check out our article Teaching Students with Disabilities about Online Safety for practical strategies you can use in your classroom. Explore the resources below for more ideas, and tools you can share with parents and guardians.
FOSI Family Online Safety Contract: https://www.fosi.org/good-digital-parenting/family-online-safety-contract
KidsHealth.org Online Safety: https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/net-safety.html
PBS Kids Webonauts game (teaches digital citizenship skills): https://pbskids.org/retired/webonauts/
CommonSense Media Advice Internet Safety Tips for Elementary School Kids: https://www.commonsensemedia.org/privacy-and-internet-safety