Safer Internet Day

Today is Safer Internet Day and I, like many teachers, organised a day filled with activities based around the safe use of the Internet. It fits in perfectly to our ‘Creating Our Learning Environment’ program, which we run in the first two weeks of school.

The year 3/4 students I am teaching have a varying background of safety online so it was it was really about getting back to basics with them. I used the ACMA (Australian Communications and Media Authority) website resources and they were so easy to follow and really got to the crux of the message I wanted to deliver to students with clear and easy to follow ideas.

Our day started with a treasure hunt to find some strategically placed cards with letters (spelling out iPads). One team had precise clues whilst the others had vague ones. It was a great example to show what looking through the internet is like and how easy it is to become frustrated and lost. And of course how important it is to be specific and accurate.

The main concepts we covered were about the information we put on the Internet and how to look for web pages safely, especially what to do when we come across inappropriate material.  The student’s responses were very clever and well thought out and although I have known this group of kids for a few days, I was already proud of the maturity they showed with how to deal with inappropriate material. So much so that I am looking forward to sharing lots of technology with them this year with the faith that they will grow to become digital citizens who respect the online world.

Our top Tips from today:

  • Always use a complex 7 password
  • Don’t share your password with anyone
  • Always share what you are doing with your parents
  • Use an avatar and online name
  • It is unlikely you will win a prize – it is spam!
  • Don’t go online when you are angry or upset
  • Use a Safe Search
  • Be specific and accurate in your searches
  • If you are unsure always ask an adult

As an ironic touch to the day, we had server problems this afternoon and everything I had planned to do online wasn’t possible. We had to do some flexible teaching, continuing to cover the concept without the Internet!  It did get me thinking if it is possible to teach internet safety without the Internet.

Today I was able to continue the discussion and students were able to share examples but I do wonder how much of an effect it had on students.  Especially compared to actually receiving spam in their inbox, or having an inappropriate page pop up that they needed to report and close.  Don’t get me wrong.  I don’t think we need to experience everything to be able to say we are Internet Safe Savvy but we do need to be able to experience the Internet.

I firmly believe that Internet Safety is not something that we teach on one day in February every year.  It should be taught at all the opportunities we have, whether a discussion from a child’s experience, using the Internet or from a TV show.  Internet safety is important and we need to ensure we keep it important all year round.

You can also read more of my safety tips for parents and students here on the ACMA Blog