This generation of students has more exposure to the web and are more technically adept in navigating it than their predecessors. Early (and often unsupervised) access to the internet means that while they're great at finding obscure information and completing projects, they might not know how to stay safe.
It's important to discuss internet safety with students at the beginning of the year, or when you're beginning your first unit that involves any sort of digital literacy element. It's also important to remind students about digital citizenship as it extends beyond an individual staying safe.
In a time where students are spending more time on the computer both during school and at home, it's important for them to understand the rules of internet safety and digital citizenship. Not only will these protect them and their information, it will also protect their classmates and friends from misunderstandings or potentially dangerous situations.
Internet Safety and Digital Citizenship are connected, but they are two separate ideas. While digital citizenship is focused on how behavior and actions spread and affect others on the web and the ways students should conduct themselves as good citizens of this digital world, internet safety includes concrete do's and don'ts to protect students. Where these two concepts meet is in the spread of information, whether it's the student's own personal information or personal information about a classmate.
Internet safety is crucial at every age, and it's good to start instructing students about how to stay safe online while they're young. In a digital age, it's important for them to understand that things don't just disappear, and they should be conscious about the information they share. Additionally, the rise of sites that allow you to compile information (like age, names, interests, potential triggers, and more) make it easier for those with bad intentions to infiltrate seemingly safe spaces. Students should be reminded that while not everyone on the internet is out to harm them, they should still be careful who they trust, just like they would in real life.
Digital citizenship is all about being a good citizen online, the same way you would in your school or community in real life. Students can practice this while they're playing online multiplayer games, chatting on social media, doing research or attending online class, or anything else they may do online! Technology can do powerful things, and it's important that students are able to harness that power while still being empathetic citizens of the world.
One of the great challenges in teaching students how to be safe is to safely provide them with scenarios and situations that will require them to make a decision on how to act. It's easy to provide a list or a lecture, but teachers need to make sure that students fully understand what it means to be safe online or how to handle tough situations before they encounter them.
Posters and infographics can be displayed in the classroom and are handy tools for conveying information in a clear and concise manner. They can be created by both teachers and students, so can be used as informational handouts or research projects.
Posters can be created to outline tips and tricks on digital safety, do's and don'ts of internet safety, or PSAs. We have an ever growing gallery of templates to choose from so that students and teachers can create the perfect poster. Infographics can display research students did on online safety, tips on creating a strong password, or even ways to stay safe. The completed projects can be printed and hung around the classroom or school to spread awareness!
Storyboard That is perfect for creating social stories. Illustrating internet safety tips or a situation that students might encounter helps students more fully comprehend how their actions can help or harm. Teachers can approach this type of activity a few different ways. Ideas for scenarios can include someone leaving their account logged in on a shared device, sexting, cyberbullying, or checking sources.
One way is to create a completed scenario and walk students through the example. Then ask students the following questions: What is happening? How did the student respond? Was what they did wrong or right? Why? This can be done as a class discussion or students can respond individually in a short writing assignment.
Another idea is to create a scenario and leave cells blank for students to fill in. This allows them to practice critical thinking and respond to the scenario as if they were involved. Teachers may choose to display student work afterward and hold a discussion with the class if there are any differences in answers (both right and wrong).
The next step would be to have students create their own scenario! They should illustrate a potential situation and demonstrate how to properly respond to it in order to stay safe. Teachers can ask students to present their scenarios and explain their choices in an activity that combines creativity and presentation skills.
Set students up for success in a digital world by giving them the tools they need to stay safe and kind. As things move further and further online, it's important to make sure they know what to do and what not to do. There's no need for scare tactics like the ones used in the 90s and 2000s, but students should be knowledgeable about the dangers of sharing information and how to protect themselves. Using Storyboard That makes it fun and easy!