Internet safety and digital citizenship are an important matter for our students and families. The following is not an exhaustive list, but may serve as a starting point as you seek to keep your children safe online so that they may enjoy the benefits of a 21st century education.
Internet safety is, first and foremost, part of the larger concept of "digital citizenship."
The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) has created comprehensive technology standards for students that define digital citizenship as follows:
Students recognize the rights, responsibilities, and opportunities of living, learning, and working in an interconnected digital world, and they act and model in ways that are safe, legal, and ethical.
For a few brief videos related to the digital citizenship standards, visit ISTE's Standards for Students page, or click on the following links/topics:
- Digital identity and reputation
- Online behavior/safety
- Intellectual property rights
- Managing personal data
For more information and resources on digital citizenship, here are some additional links:
- Digital Citizenship: Resource Roundup (Edutopia, a site geared primarily toward teachers, but topics and resources are also relevant for families)
- Digital Citizenship Guide for Parents (tips and resources for discussing and modeling good/bad digital citizenship)
- Digital Citizenship Guide for Parents (downloadable guide from Canada's Centre for Digital and Media Literacy)
- Teach Your Kids Good Digital Citizenship (scroll down for free resources and family plans from the Digital Futures Initiative)
There are many things students and parents can do to be safer online. Here is an introduction to internet safety entitled "Internet Safety Tips for Teens" by Josh Shipp.
A few years ago, we welcomed internet safety expert Jesse Weinberger to LBMS (Grades 7 and 8) and WHS (Grades 9 and 10) to talk with our students and community. Her website is OvernightGeek University, which is also home to her podcast for parents: Big Mama's House.
Some key takeaways from Jesse's presentation were:
- Kids of all ages have seen online content that makes them feel "uncomfortable" or "scared."
- The age at which kids are first exposed to such content is decreasing.
- Kids want their parents to set limits on device usage and screen time.
For more information and resources on internet safety, here are some additional links:
- K-12 Safety Resources and Games (Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency)
- 5 Things Students Should Do to Stay Safe and Secure Online (ISTE)
- 5 Internet Safety Tips for Tweens & Teens (Scholastic)
- Internet Safety for Parents (KidsHealth)
- Internet Safety (Common Sense Education)
- Parent and Caregiver Resources (Ohio Department of Education - scroll down to "Computer Science", there are some resources linked to data ethics, cybersecurity, etc.)
Online Protection Tools
We recognize that the best place to start with protecting your child is with educating them about safety and helping them to establish good habits. Online tools can help parents assist their student in establishing safe habits. Online protection tools control access to online materials and help to protect children from harmful content. There are a wide variety of online tools available to parents, finding the tool that works best for you may take some research and a bit of experimentation.
Where to start:
- Decide what you want in a online protection tool. Web filtering, access controls, monitoring or reporting? All of the above?
- An online search for "web content filter" or "web filter for home" should provide you with some actionable results. There are many decent "free" tools available and loads of paid services as well, your search results should give you a lot to work with. OpenDNS has a decent free tool that is easy to implement. You may find it to be a good place to start or even use it as an added layer of protection if you decide you want to do more.
- Most home routers have built in parent controls that let you do some web filtering and/or allow you to schedule web access.
- Your home anti-virus software could have parental controls & web filtering options.
- Your home internet provider may provide parental controls including filtering and access controls.
- Your computer, cell phone or tablet may also come with parental controls.
Things to consider:
- Layered protections can be very effective. Anti-virus, DNS filtering and a paid monitoring service combined with strong family engagement with online safety practices may be exactly what you need. Note: Layered protections also make things more complicated, it might be wise to start with safety education and some basic protection measures and add more layers as needed.
- Don't treat protection measures strictly as "gotcha" tools. Consider letting your student know about what you are doing and why - the bottom line is their safety. Use the tools to help educate your child and to inform your overall approach in developing safe habits.