iKeepSafe & Impero discuss digital citizenship and student monitoring software

“If we’re constantly blocking everything, a child is not going to be able to grow his or her skills. ” – Holly Hawkins, Chief Safety and Privacy Officer at iKeepSafe

In a recent podcast on Larry Jacobs’ Education Talk Radio, Impero Software Marketing Manager Felicia Rateliff chatted with iKeepSafe Chief Safety and Privacy Officer Holly Hawkins about online safety for students. During that conversation, Holly discussed how monitoring students online promotes iKeepsafe’s six pillars of digital citizenship. Here are the main points from the conversation, which are useful for students, teachers and administrators alike:

What are the pillars of digital citizenship?

To understand what teaching digital citizenship can do for students, iKeepSafe gathered insight from cyber security professionals, media and digital literacy experts, media psychologists, law enforcement officers, public health professionals and studies on over 40,000 students. With this information, iKeepSafe translated the known online risks of young people into a positive framework of behaviors that promote good digital citizenship.

This framework, which they formed into six pillars dubbed BEaPRO, are balance, ethics, privacy, reputation, relationships, and online security. By analyzing these six pillars, school educators, counselors, administrators and IT managers can promote responsible student technology use.

What is the difference between monitoring internet and blocking?

When a school uses a monitored approach to network and classroom technology management, it creates a solution for internet usage problems instead of ignoring or putting off the problem. When schools have a functional monitoring software in place, they have the ability to detect potentially harmful terms, phrases and images on student devices. Simply blocking internet usage or specific sites does not allow for this. The software can then send alerts of issues or risky online behavior to educators.

This allows behavior and communication to be assessed and managed as needed, while necessary online content is still accessible. Blocking and filtering software merely stops student from accessing inappropriate content, which is necessary. But it won’t detect behaviors that could be prevented, such as eating disorders or bullying. Additionally, blocking doesn’t show context or what students are searching for to get around the blocks. Monitoring software keeps logs of online activity so adults can see patterns of behavior and step in when the time is right.

How does monitoring software work?

Prior to using monitoring software in schools, administrators have students and parents sign acceptable use policies for technology. This puts internet usage guidelines out in the open for students and parents to understand, and the monitoring concept is presented clearly to students. Then, as schools monitor the tech, children explore and learn. All the while, though, children have an adult in the background who can help them learn to address issues and information as it comes up.

A student may not even know something is an issue, but monitoring allows a teacher to address things and help students make good decisions. For example, a student may receive an instant message that he or she feels is inappropriate or makes them feel uncomfortable. If the conversation is flagged and a teacher is alerted, the teacher can discuss the situation, give guidance on how to address it or send the student to a counselor who can help. If every application or website containing instant messaging was blocked, how could a student — especially those who don’t have access to technology at home — know how to deal with this kind of issue out in the world?

How is digital citizenship promoted through internet monitoring?

When a school uses a monitored approach, it allows adults to help children uphold the six pillars of BEaPRO mentioned above. Children, when given the online platform, use it as their outlet. They’ll talk about anything that bothers them.

When young people use the internet for this reason, monitoring software can show a broad view of student issues. For example, a student may call another student a racial slur on a chat website. This behavior would be flagged, and an adult could intervene. This creates a learning and teaching moment for both parties instead of sweeping an issue under the rug.

What can school administrators and educators do with monitoring software?

School districts include thousands of students, and the internet changes each day — teeming with inappropriate content that can be accessed by young minds. But through monitoring online activity in schools — instead of restricting students and pushing them to work around barriers — educators can be digital citizenship mentors.

Educators and administrators have the tools that allow them to show students what good, ethical behavior looks like online. Educators can help their students make appropriate choices about what should and shouldn’t be shared online. Furthermore, they can show students the importance of maintaining a positive reputation online by cultivating meaningful relationships. In the end, giving students freedom to choose online exposes them to learning moments. Having solid monitoring software in place and a responsible adult behind their internet use is just as important as allowing them freedom.

To hear more about digital citizenship and online monitoring software, listen to the full Edutalk Radio podcast here.

To learn more about about how Impero Education Pro can help provide your school with a consolidated approach to network, classroom and internet safety management, get in touch today.

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