6 resolutions for better internet safety in schools

As a new year begins, it is customary to make resolutions for ourselves, our families and if we’re educators, our classrooms. Among the most important of goals is to keep children safe, and one of the greatest areas of possible risk to their safety is the Internet. The best preventative measure against Internet danger is continued Internet safety education, so we thought of a few resolutions for your school’s Internet usage.

1. Resolve to be personally safe online.

As educators, being an example to young people is par for the course. But before you can talk to students about how to be safe online, you need to make sure you practice what you preach. Take some time to look at your social media habits, and resolve to keep yourself in check:

  • Carefully consider comments and images before posting them online. Don’t post content about sex, alcohol or anything else that you wouldn’t want your students, their parents or administrators to see.
  • Use the privacy settings on social media sites, blogs, image sharing sites and other online communication tools
  • Don’t post anything that is negative or divulges sensitive information or information that could be used to individually identify a student.

Download the Educator’s Guide to Online Communication Tools by NetSmartz here.

2. Resolve to teach the importance of cybersecurity.

We hear about cybersecurity on the news all the time, especially during the holidays with online shopping at a high point. Students may think they know about how to be secure online, but it is most likely not at the front of their mind. He may fall victim to identity theft regardless of what he thinks he knows.

To keep kids safe, resolve to teach them about the importance of creating safer passwords, not sharing those passwords with others and how to protect their online identity. Teach students about the security tools are available to use on most computers to further protect themselves, their personal information, and their computer from viruses, spyware and spam.

For grade appropriate lesson plans and class activities on cybersecurity, See StaySafeOnline.org’s resources here.

Find the Nearpod + Common Sense Education Digital Citizenship Curriculum here.

3. Resolve to have the hard conversations and provide resources to students.

The Internet is a scary place if a young person doesn’t have guidance. The headlines show terrible things happening to kids every day – sexting scandals, bullying, grooming and threats of violence, radicalization and terrorism. Although students may know that these things happen, they may not feel like it could happen to them because they aren’t hearing about it from trusted sources.

As they say in sports, the best defense is a good offense (or vice versa). Students trust their teachers and educational staff; that is why it is important to have the difficult conversations surrounding the dangers that lurk on the Internet and what to do about them. If a topic comes up during class, take the time to talk it out, and then provide resources that students can use for further education or to help them report issues. Assure students that you are there for them should they have any concerns.

Here are some online resources on Internet safety for students that we think are helpful:

  • National Children’s Advocacy Center tips for kids and teens here
  • NetSmartz Student Project Kit for Internet safety here
  • Cyberbullying Research Center resources for teens here
  • Stopbullying.org guide on how to report cyberbullying here

4. Resolve to have a safety pledge.

Once you’ve taught students about cybersecurity and digital citizenship, get your students to pledge that they will continue to be safe online throughout the year and their lives. If they’ve made a promise to you and to themselves, they are more likely to remember what they’ve been taught.

Additionally, a pledge of rules can be referenced if there is any question as to what online activities are appropriate. A pledge should contain the rules of Internet safety and could include real world safety standards, too.

You and your students can create a pledge together, or instead of “reinventing the wheel”, use a pre-written document found online.

Find NetSmarts’ age appropriate Internet safety pledges here

5. Resolve to keep parents involved.

Parents are deeply concerned about the Internet safety of their children. But with everything going on in a parent’s world, it can help to send reminders of what to look for and how to keep communicating with their kiddo.

Resolve to send a friendly email about what is being done in the classroom to keep students safe online and provide some resources for parents to mirror those concepts at home. The safety pledge that the students have signed should be sent home, too.

Here are some helpful websites that can be referenced when communicating with parents about online safety:

  • Kidpower Safety Handout for Parents and Caregivers here
  • National Crime Prevention Council tips for parents on Internet safety here
  • SchoolFamily Internet safety tips for families here
  • Kidshealth teaching kids to be smart about social media here

6. Resolve to examine and update school policies on Internet safety.

Whether you are a teacher, a school administrator or a school IT professional, you need to know what the policies are for Internet safety in your district. Do you know the laws of your state? Are they reflected in your Acceptable Use Policy? Is your technology policy updated to include social media safety, app use and the monitoring of student online activities?

No matter what role you play in your school, it is worth it to take the time to examine the technology policies in place and bring up the need to update them if necessary. It is always a good time to make sure we are keeping kids safe.

From all of us at Impero Software to all of you, have a wonderful and safe start to your new year!

Impero Education Pro software provides schools with the ability to proactively monitor the online activities of digital devices while they are being used in classrooms. To find out more about this solution, go to the product features page here. Impero offers free trial product downloads, webinars, and consultations. Call us at 877.883.4370 or email us at info@imperosoftware.com today for more information.