Digital Safety Guide for Parents and Students

Digital Safety by Devlynne Barnes, Technology Director - Monroe County Schools

Mother always reminded us when we left home to "not talk to strangers". Unfortunately, the way the world was, we had to learn not to trust everyone and to be on guard.

Contrast that with today...our children talk to strangers every day!  They tell personal information about themselves and their families on the internet.  They trust everyone!  They feel safe in their own homes and behind the computer screen or phone.  They absolutely do not know the dangers ahead.

It does fall on the adults in their lives to help prepare them...which will protect them.  We can not supervise them 24/7 but we can empower them.  I loved this quote from a 2002 National Academy of Science report on Internet safety, "Swimming pools can be dangerous for children.  To protect them, one can install locks, put up fences, and deploy pool alarms.  All these measures are helpful, but by far the most important thing one can do for one's children is to teach them to swim."

Just as Mother prepared us to go out into the world, so should we.  We must talk to children about the potential dangers.  A few of the many are harassment, bullying, sexual predators, and even crime.  Children can be caught up in these before even realizing it.  If only the world could "measure up" as through a child's trusting eyes!!

Guidelines for parents - written by SafeKids.com

  1. Have a conversation (not a lecture) with your children about how they are using connected technology. Ask them what services and apps they use and get them to show you how they use them.
  2. Don’t overreact. If you become concerned or if something goes wrong, work with your children to solve the problem and don’t punish them or take away their access for coming to you with a problem.
  3. Very young children should be cautioned to not give out identifying information — home address or telephone number — in a public space such as a social networking site or app that can be accessed by people they don’t know.
  4. It’s now common to post photographs on the web but think about whether they are appropriate, especially if they include young children. Also, be aware of what’s in the background as well as any data associated with the photograph that could identify where the picture was taken. Respect other people’s privacy rights when posting pictures that include them.
  5. Get to know any services or apps your child uses. If you don’t know how to use the service, get your child to show you. Have your child show you what he or she does online and become familiar with the services. You’ll find links to ConnectSafely.org’s guides to the services that are most popular with children and teens at SafeKids.com.
  6. Be aware of the information that sites and apps collect. It could include your child’s location (especially mobile apps) or list of friends and contacts. Some apps let you limit what they collect so pay close attention to the “permissions” they request when you install them.
  7. Avoid allowing young children to arrange a face-to-face meeting with someone they “meet” on the Internet. If a meeting is arranged, make the first one in a public place, and be sure to accompany your child. Talk with teens about cautions they should take before any in-person meetings including having them in a public place and bringing friends along.
  8. Never respond to messages that are suggestive, obscene, belligerent, threatening, or make you feel uncomfortable. Encourage your children to tell you if they encounter such messages. If you or your child receives a message on a social networking site or service, use the service’s reporting tools or support e-mail address to let them know.  If the message is harassing or threatening,  ask your local police for advice.
  9. Remind your child not to click on any links that are contained in email from persons they don’t know. Such links could lead to websites that try to trick them into revealing personal information or contain sexually explicit or otherwise inappropriate material or could be a source of malicious software.
  10. If someone sends you or your children messages or images that are “filthy, indecent, lewd, or obscene with the intent to abuse, annoy, harass, or threaten you, or if you become aware of the transmission, use, or viewing of child pornography while online immediately report this to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children’s (NCMEC) CyberTipline at 1-800-843-5678 or online at www.cybertipline.com.” (NCMEC’s wording)
  11. Remember that everything you see online may not be true. Use your critical thinking skills with both content and offers. Consider the source of any content and be careful about any offers that involve you going to a meeting, having someone visit your house, or sending money or credit-card information. Any offer that’s “too good to be true” probably is.
  12. Consider signing an online safety contract with your children. SafeKids.com’s Family Contract for Online Safety has separate contracts for parents, teens and children to sign.

If you want more information, follow my blog on Digital Citizenship  https://digitalcitizenshipandus.blogspot.com/