Back to School: Cyber Safety Resources
Have you had “The Conversation” with your children yet? Back to school means back to homework, and more and more kids are likely to receive and submit their homework assignments online. Some elementary school parents will even find out class news via Twitter or Instagram this year. Good or bad, today’s kids and their parents depend on the Internet, so laying down some cyber safety ground rules is important. Plus, it doesn’t hurt for parents, no matter how tech-savvy they are, to review online security fundamentals as well.
One resource for students in grades 3-8 to learn the basics about cyber safety and online security is the FBI Safe Online Surfing website. There are six FBI Cyber Surf islands that cover topics such as cell phone safety, protecting personal information, password strength, chat rooms, instant messaging, social networking, cyberbullying, online gaming, online predators, and more. The 3rd grade island would work for earlier primary grades as well, depending on the child’s reading level.
Here are a few sample questions:
Privacy (3rd Grade): “Angela loves science. One weekend, she was on her home computer and found a science website for kids. To play the games on the site, she had to give her name and home address, but she didn’t think it was a big deal since the website was for kids. She typed in her information and got to play three awesome science games.”
Online Predators (8th Grade): “Sarah was on her social networking page when she received a friend request from a man she didn’t recognize. She went to his page to see his information and noticed that they had seven friends in common – all girls in her grade. . . . He didn’t have any other information on his page except that they lived in the same city. Sarah felt like she didn’t have enough information to accept his friend request, so she denied him and told her parents.”
For teachers, the website’s ready-made curriculum meets state and federal Internet safety mandates. In addition, since 2012 the FBI has conducted an annual national competition—the FBI’s Safe Online Surfing (SOS) Internet Challenge—to encourage participation. At the end of the month, the top-scoring schools receive a FBI-SOS award and may even receive a visit from their local FBI field office.
And since today’s kids are increasingly using smartphones and tablets, the Growing Wireless website created by CTIA-The Wireless Association and The Wireless Foundation is another online resource with security tips for parents and educators, as well as some pretty interesting information. From the Test Your Knowledge section:
Q: College admissions officers may be reviewing prospective college applicants’ social networking profiles.
A: True. According to a recent survey, 24 percent of college admission officers have reviewed an applicant’s social networking profiles to learn more about him/her.
Finally, there’s some excellent information for everyone to be found in the CTIA’s infographics on cyberbullying, sexting, privacy and security and dollars and sense.