As a follow-up to my last posting, I thought I’d tell you some of what I’ve learned from asking my students in Grades 1 through 4 what they’ve “upgraded” over the summer:
- There’s a lot more Wiis and Xboxes out there and some are hooking up to the Internet.
- Many more students are connecting to social networks geared towards kids, like Webkinz, Club Penguins, RuneScape.
- Students made me aware that Club Penguin is now allowing kids to type in their own messages (rather than pre-canned sentences). This is the first year I’ve heard of students as young as first graders entering “chat” environments.
- More students are getting their own email.
- More computers are able to access the Internet from my students’ homes.
- I actually have one first grader who said he plays World of Warcraft. He was knowledgeable enough in the game to convince me that he really does.
We start each year with Internet safety lessons, and each year, the landscape changes. I remember two years ago, when I asked my 1st graders who had a WebKinz, they had no idea what I was talking about. The following year, most of them had an account. Things can change overnight and I continue to update the lessons while holding on to the three main rules for Internet Safety:
- Always tell an adult.
- Never meet anyone in person that you met on the Internet
- Never give out personal information.
It used to be that the second rule — “Never meet anyone in person that you met on the Internet”— was very abstract for my first grade group. We want them to know this rule from first grade on up, but they didn’t really understand that you could actually meet people on the Internet. That was then. This is now. Now that they’re in environments like Club Penguin where they can actually type in messages, this is no longer a rule to “tuck away for later,” but a real skill that we need them to have now.
We’ve been mostly using 2 great sites to teach our students Internet Safety: Cybersmart! and Netsmartz. Both sites offer excellent resources starting at Kindergarten, all the way up to the higher grades. I’m happy to see that the Netsmartz Kids site (the one for the younger kids) has updated their site to now include “Club UYN!” (“use your netsmartz!”) which will offer fresh games, activities and videos each month. This constant “refresh” will hopefully keep my students returning to the site from their home computers and keep Internet Safety issues present in their thinking and home discussions.
What are some other resources out there that you’re using to teach Internet Safety? You can twitter me at “bobsprankle” or let me know at my Blog.