As an educator, an instructional technology specialist and a parent, child safety is an important topic to me. However, determining the best way to educate myself on safety issues as well as how to share that information with teachers, parents, students and my own children has proven to be a tough job.
One of the most common methods I’ve seen and heard on how to keep children safe while they are on the internet is to forbid children to be online or to strictly limit their privledges online. While I certainly see the neccessity to keep children out of harm’s way (not to mention following the law surrounding this topic), I also think it is equally important to make sure we are teaching our children how to be safe online.
Do we tell our children they will never be allowed to cross the street, or do we talk with them about it- over and over again, help them cross the street many, many times and hope that as they get older, they take our guidance to heart as they become independent street-crossers?
You may say my analogy of crossing the street and online predators is a poor comparison. But, stop and think for a moment. Our children are living networked lives. Technologies are changing every day. Online social networks are part of the culture of this generation. Our children are plugged in all the time. And if we don’t prepare them to live in this type of world, we are doing them a disservice.
Unplugging them does nothing to help them.
So, how do we start preparing them? By educating them- and us. By discussing the risks with our children. I’ve posted some resources here to help you get started.
And this site deserves special mention: NetSmartz has great resources for kids, teens, parents, educators, and even law enforcement. http://www.netsmartz.org/ You’ll find activity cards, videos, safety pledges, safety tips and more.
The fear is real. We want to protect our children from everything bad in this world. But, we must remember that education is the best way to fight that fear.