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Teaching Online Safety to Students

internet safetyLessons in online safety are increasingly important as social networking and online communication become more popular with students. These lessons should be taught as part of the curriculum, and students should be assessed on their knowledge of online safety, particularly before they are given assignments requiring Internet access. We’ve provided 10 tips for educators to help them teach online safety to their students.

  1. Instruct students that they should never, under any circumstances, give out any personal information, including their name, address or phone number in any type of chat room or on any social networking site.
  2. Encourage students not to correspond with anyone that they have not already met in person.
  3. Emphasize that students should never meet someone that they have met online without the permission of their parents.
  4. Stress that students should tell their parents if anything they see on the Internet makes them uncomfortable.
  5. Make sure that students know that people online may not be who they say they are. There is no way of knowing if somebody who claims to be an 11-year-old boy actually is one.
  6. Explain to students the benefits of making their social networking sites private.
  7. Be sure that students know that their “screen name” should not include personal information. Do not use birthdays, hometowns, etc.
  8. Tell students that once they post information online, they cannot take it back. Even if they delete their information, it still exists on older versions of the site on other computers.
  9. Caution students that if they want to post photos of themselves on social networking sites, they should limit access to their site to “friends only” and make sure the photos are appropriate and will not cause embarrassment to themselves or others. Every photo they post can easily become “public property,” so students need to act accordingly.
  10. Encourage parents to monitor their children’s Internet activities and to educate themselves on the dangers of the Internet. A good resource to start with is http://OnGuardOnline.gov, which provides practical tips to help you stay safe while surfing the Internet.