Teachers say it’s kind of like a modern day lesson in stranger danger.
“Don’t talk to anyone that you don’t know.”
“Don’t give out your phone number or address.”
“Tell an adult if someone texted you that you don’t know.”
These comments from second graders at Scott Elementary prove they’ve gotten the message.
“You have to be careful on the Internet,” one student concluded.
Across Frisco ISD, educators stress the importance of being smart – and safe – when it comes to the Internet and mobile devices. Teachers and administrators hang posters, share announcements and engage students in age-appropriate lessons designed to teach them how to be responsible citizens in today’s digital world.
Whether at school or home, students are constantly using smartphones, computers and other connected devices. The electronics are tools for everything from conducting research and doing homework to playing games and interacting with friends.
“Unfortunately at home, many kids are on iPads and other devices unsupervised, on networks that are not locked down or filtered in any way,” said Sherri Richardson, digital learning coach at Scott and Comstock elementary schools. “They are stumbling across images and content that is not appropriate for them. They are finding things that are way above their intellectual and maturity levels.”
Students must learn to navigate technology safely and responsibly in order to grow into successful adults and meet the demands of college and career. That is why Frisco ISD covers cyber security topics in school throughout the year, including ways to keep your personal information safe and protect your digital footprint. Students also learn about cyberbullying, copyright and fair use laws and the need to respect the intellectual property of others.
At the secondary level, teachers utilize cyber safety lessons from Google and the non-profit Common Sense. The Google curriculum, called “Be Internet Awesome,” includes a video game called Interland, which is popular with students. School resource officers also share information regarding the risks associated with social media and other digital activities, from cyberbullying to the legal ramifications of sexting and other online offenses.
In younger grades, lessons incorporate tangible objects to help students make connections between the physical and virtual worlds. They squeeze toothpaste out of a tube to illustrate how once your personal information gets out onto the Internet or into the hands of people with bad intentions, there is no putting it or taking it back. A permanent marker drives home the message that once posted online, information cannot be erased. A padlock helps students understand the concept of keeping passwords safe so others cannot use them for malicious purposes.
“We try to be as proactive as we can,” said Scott Second Grade Teacher Sarah Holden. “We don’t know what’s going to happen in the future with technology, so we’re preparing students for a future that we don’t even know.”
Holden’s students recently watched videos on keeping personal information private and telling a trusted adult when something online seems suspicious. That might mean ignoring a friend or chat request or identifying something as a scam.
“It’s really part of teaching them how to be safe at school and at home,” Holden said. “It’s scary what they can get into.”
Educators hope their efforts will help students avoid dangerous behavior, recognize questionable activity and make smart choices online.
“If we practice and inform them now, hopefully when they are faced with that decision online, they will make the right decision,” said Scott Elementary Principal Paige Brewer.
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