Internet safety is something that is always on the mind of educators when we take students to the computer lab or bring in the Chromebook cart for an activity in class. As a teacher, what I try to do prior to using any computer or laptop to access the internet is to go over expectations and safety tips. I make sure my students know exactly what is acceptable in terms of how they use the internet and what is not acceptable. But, no matter how much we teach internet safety, if there is a student who is determined to go to sites that he/she frequently visits at home which have nothing to do with the assignment or even to visit sites that are adult in nature then they will find a way.
Most students are pretty responsible and usually after about a quarter I have a good idea of who I need to monitor when it comes to internet safety. I used to always be a bit stressed out when we get on the internet but found that it makes no sense to worry about those students who will abuse it. They know what the consequences are and I decided to focus on teaching and instructing students as they use the internet in regards to their assignments. While I am always on the lookout for students who are abusing their privileges, it is no longer my #1 concern when my students are on the internet.
My biggest fear is missing that student who is trying to look at adult oriented sites and on students pulling up adult oriented sites or images inadvertently while working on their assignment. I’ve run across this several times and have found that there are many gaps and ways around security settings that the district sets up. I guess knowing these things allows me to monitor my students better but sometimes it seems like out technology guys on site and at the district level are ignorant of the loop holes or just too busy with other projects to set up any additional security measures.
So here is a question, how much security is too much? Internet safety is important but you cannot control for every single factor or prevent everything that could go wrong. Kids are super smart today in terms of technology. I do what I can in the end to set expectations and go over safety tips but I won’t let the fear of one or two students trying to look at inappropriate sites/images stop me from being a teacher and helping those students who need my attention for questions or concerns regarding their assignment.
My guidelines that I generally focus on when using the internet with my students are;
- If you come across inappropriate websites or images while using the internet to complete an assignment immediately click on your homepage icon and then alert the teacher.
- Never share your password with anyone, even a friend.
- Do not try to download or install anything onto the computer. Whatever needs to be downloaded and installed so that you can complete this assignment/project will be done by the school technology technician and/or myself.
- Limit your searches for information to keywords that are associated with your assignment/project.
I have more but those are four basic guidelines that I have. Below are four websites that provide tips and resources for internet safety.