Cyber Safety

Hmm! whose job it is to teach online safety skills? Homeroom teachers? Tech teachers, counselors, parents or all? Can the education of a child be anyone person’s responsibility? Do those get taught at school or home? One class period? A course?

Together we succeed in keeping kids safe

As an African proverb says – “It takes a whole village to raise a child”.

The holistic education of a child is the culmination of efforts of all adults associated with a child’s life.  In fact a child’s education involves not just cyber safety skills but all other life skills as well. It would involve developing problem solving, analysis and evaluation skills that would help with taking care of personal affairs, and this kind of education would most naturally lead to the online well-being as well.

A survey by i-safe.org of 1500 students between Grades 4-8 reported that

  • 42% of kids have been bullied online. One in four have had it happen more than once
  • 35% kids have been threatened online.
  • 58% have not shared about something mean or hurtful that happened to them online

The survey results indicate that the issue of cyber bullying is a reality and that there is a need for developing ‘intervention mechanisms’. The article by Danah Boyd states that ‘Empathy, Not Technology, is core of the problem and solution’ – and so educating kids about the internet and its appropriate use is mandatory in today’s world but actions like banning kids from using social media sites (or banning texting as mentioned in the article by Debbie Grieger) to communicate with peers and others is not the solution.

Cyber safety education needs to be both preventive as well as reactive. It is imperative to teach students about the connection between the online world and the real world. They need to understand that online actions could possibly have a real-life reaction, and so all forms of online activity needs to be within the framework of respect and responsibility. Students need to be taught how to communicate, create, evaluate and synthesize the information they come across and communications they accept.

The key word is ‘ balance’ and the efforts that the adults need to make to meet the needs of the children. The adults need to bridge the gap which the digital divide might have created in some cases. Sometimes the major cause for any bad online experience might be lack of role models who kids can emulate when it comes to online behavior. And so, staying updated about the newer technologies could help with having informed discussions with the kids!

Cyber safety skills cannot be taught in a separate class and can’t be confined within the realm of technology education. It needs to be intertwined with other subject areas, and that way its scope and applicability will be more concrete for the students. And there can’t be a prescribed curriculum for this! We start talking about simple cyber safety skills like – ‘always logout at the end of a session’ or ‘not sharing passwords’ very early-on and the more complex skills like e-safety of devices or unwanted contact or protecting personal information can be introduced both at home and school. The blend of both formal and informal environment is important for making connection with the kids.

 

 

4 Comments

  1. Atul Sharma says:

    “Cyber safety skills cannot be taught in a separate class and can’t be confined within the realm of technology education.” I totally believe in the same . so ” the blend of formal and informal environment” makes even more sense .

    I liked the rationale you gave about making children understand the connection between real world survival and cyber world ethics. Cyber-safety education should come to a child as a way of life in today’s environment and not as one more stream of education, therefore ” The key word is ‘ balance’ and the efforts that the adults need to make to meet the needs of the children. ”

    I believe with this post you have put the need partnership between parent,teachers and community forth in a very realistic and simple approach . I enjoyed reading this post.

  2. Luke LaBaw says:

    I think you are spot on with your with your philosophy of Cyber safety. I truly believe, as you supported with the quote from the African proverb, that “It takes a whole village to raise a child”. The task of teaching Cyber safety is too monumental to leave strictly to technology teachers; the responsibility is too great and the mediums in which the web is used is far too widespread to leave strictly to one subject or discipline alone. Our students use the web for EVERYTHING.

    The statistics that you shared regarding online bullying are staggering, but unfortunately, I don’t believe that they’re that far removed from physical and emotional bullying that takes place in person at school or in student social settings. Your point that a holistic education should not only incorporate cyber safety skills, but overall safety skills is valiant and necessary. However, as you supported with your post, I think these skills need to be intentionally taught within the curriculum; we have to make room for it. By putting the responsibility of this kind of education on the entire “village” is the correct approach, but unless it is introduced, reviewed, practiced within every aspect of the “village”, things have a way of slipping through the cracks. Let’s face it… as teachers, we have a lot of things to cover, regardless of discipline. When you put the responsibility on the “village”, without mandating its implementation through curriculum, teachers will assume that it’s being covered by others and put emphasis on their subject curriculum.

    Nice post. I really enjoyed reading.

    Luke

  3. gagan soni says:

    I agree with ruchira, atul and luke that it is everyone’s responsibility to make sure that their students/children needs to be aware of cyber safety but for that we as an educator needs to take a step further and educate our students about pros and cons of their digital life.

Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. Tech Literate Parent Profile | Thinking Tech

Leave a Reply