There is no easy way out of keeping students safe while using online tools. Parents rightfully have an expectation that their children remain safe and are not adversely affected by using online tools. The dangers for students are numerous and many teachers have little to no idea of what the dangers are and how to protect their students from them. Everyone seems to be looking for the easy way out when dealing with cyber safety. The magic bullet, the end all solution, or catch phrase that will allow them to blindly use technology and to have an easy excuse where no one is to blame if something goes wrong. The dangers range from cyberbullying using social media, to inadvertently viewing adult content that immediately changes the emotional character of the viewing child. The simplest act of using YouTube or a Google Image search is enough to change a child’s life forever in an instant. Teachers really need to ask themselves “what if it was my child?” Teachers lack of knowledge including the potential pitfalls of online use, and not taking the time to learn about and teach proper use takes training. It’s not only the teachers that need training but also parents and the students themselves. In addition, the technology coordinators need training to work with the network administrators in configuring the network proxy, and system configurations, not to limit, but protect students. Many coordinators will often take the “easy” approach and state that the Internet shouldn’t be filtered. What they don’t understand is that content is already filtered in school settings. Adult magazines are not present in school libraries, and students are supervised throughout the day. If your school is an Apple school, you already filter applications and content on iTunesU by default as Apple has very strict content rules and regulations. This is not to say that we need to spend our time policing students. Having a well written and thoughtful acceptable use policy is part of any school technology program. The Internet was not designed for children, but for everyone, including those who can care less about children. The pornography industry is one of the largest segments on the Internet today. Children are children in that they are innocent and we as their guardians need to practice due diligence when letting them use online based tools. Just don’t fall for the easy way out catch phrases thrown around by those not wanting to learn and teach about the potential pitfalls that await online.
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