After becoming fairly alarmed at my 7th grade daughter’s requests for a Facebook account “because most of the kids in my class are already there”, I brought up the subject of Internet safety at the most recent parent evening. From what I could tell, most of the parents were completely clueless that their kids were using Facebook, let alone the other sites they’re doubtless visiting.
My comment was “From what I can understand, about 1/3 of the children in this class are already on Facebook, but I don’t think any of them have a clue how to remain safe in the world of social networks. I think this is quite concerning and would like to help them learn how to stay safe online.”
One parent got upset, saying that if her child had positive intention, compassion and was focused on specific tasks that it wouldn’t be an issue, but the other parents expressed great interest in me possibly teaching a class on Internet safety.
I then checked in with administration and found that they’d prefer me start by teaching parents what they need to know to keep their children safe and productive online, rather than starting out in the classroom. Apparently the subject of kids being online is rather controversial. Uh, okay.
So I’ve signed up to run a parent evening at the school where I’ll talk about the dangers — and opportunities! — online, where I highlight simple things parents can do to limit the time that their children spend online, and how to ensure that they’re safe when they are online. I am also savvy enough to realize that the most questionable time they spend online is when they’re at that unsupervised friends’ house, not at home.
I can use Google to dig around, I’ve already emailed my friend Larry Magid at ConnectSafely.org, but I’m asking you, dear blog readers, for some pointers too: what resources have you encountered (if any) that helped you keep your children safe, how have you taught them smart online strategies, and what resources do you think would be helpful?
Ideally, a lesson plan or similar focused on teaching parents how to help keep their kids safe in the online world would be great.