WASHINGTON, DC, May 6, 2012 - For teenagers and pre-teens, peer pressure, fitting in and maintaining a certain persona in their online worlds are all-important. What they have, what they are doing and who they are doing it with, is a critical part of their every day lives.
And while a “month” designation helps increase awareness, parents and teachers need to work together not only during the month of June, but all year long to teach children how to use the resources available online in a safe manner.
Five million social media users are under the age of 10 years old, and 51% have given out personal information online to strangers. Out of all teenagers, 95% have been online and 80% use social media, where peer pressure can prompt them to post personal information and photos to strangers when they update their status online.
Only 10% of these teens ever talk with a parent about the internet.
According to a survey on the State of K-12 cyber ethics and cyber security in the United States, schools do very little to teach Internet safety. More than 50% of the teachers polled in the survey say schools fall short in terms of teaching students about safe Internet use. Additionally, more than 1/3 of the teachers in the survey say they received zero hours of professional development by their district regarding online safety and online security. However, more than 79% of teachers surveyed believed parents should shoulder the primary burden for teaching children cyber safety.
Here are some guidelines for teachers and parents to use with children to help them learn how to use the internet safely:
- Develop and maintain a trusting relationship with your child.
- Know your child’s online friends
- Use a pre-filtered ISP
- Check media storage devices regularly
- Check history files often
- Spend time with your child online
- Get involved. Ask your child to show you their favorite sites online and find out what they are accessing
- Teach children about using the resources on the internet responsibly
- Find out what safeguards are in place at your child’s school and work with the teachers to make sure they are in place
- Tell you child never to arrange face to face meetings with anyone they met online or to respond to messages or postings on boards or forums
- Tell your child to never give out personal information, names, addresses, or pictures
- If your child’s behaviour changes or they become withdrawn or angry, make sure its not because of something happening online, talk to them
- Lastly, tell your child to come to you with uncomfortable feelings about anything they see online
There are also numerous on-line sites to help teach about Internet safety. For Internet Safety Month, the Boys and Girls Club of America launched CyberSafeFutures.org, to help parents and teachers educate children about cyber bullying, mobile safety, social networking and online safety.
With parents, teachers and guardians working together, we can help make sure that our children, our most valuable resource, are safe while they discover the wonderful resources available on the internet while staying safe by keeping these safeguards in place.
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