Helping to ensure students are safe online and understand the importance of being good digital citizens is a concern for most parents and teachers.
The Technology Department is often asked by parents about how to best protect students when they are using personal devices at home. The best way to protect students is through a multi-layered approach. The first layer of defense involves being aware of what your children are doing on the Internet regardless of the type of device. For younger children, the devices should always be located in a public area of the house. As children become older, this will become more difficult to manage and/or enforce, but parents still need to ask questions and communicate with their children about safe Internet use. Some quality resources concerning Internet Safety and Digital Citizenship include:
- NetSmartKids - sponsored by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
- Common Sense Media - resources for parents and educators related to a wide variety of topics within the realm of student online safety and digital citizenship
It is also recommended that all portable Internet accessible devices be stored in a public area when people are supposed to be asleep. This helps to ensure that children aren't remaining on line all night. There have been studies that document the prolonged use of "screens" at night before going to bed can negatively impact sleep cycles.
Another layer of defense involves Internet filtering. It is important to note that this is just a layer and is far from perfect. There really isn't a product that filters without any type of erroneous blocking or accidently allowing inappropriate content through.
There are a variety of other software packages or services that can be used. NetNanny, WebWatcher, CYBER sitter are some of the titles of packages that can be used to help filter or monitor Internet use. Please remember that this is just one layer of protection and shouldn't be the only one. Rockwood does not endorse any specific home Internet filter package; these are just products that have been rated highly.
Additionally, parents and staff should re-inforce the importance of good Digital Citizenship. Digital Citizenship encompasses using technology appropriately, ethically, and responsibly.
The key to safe Internet use is being involved with your children and communicating frequently about how to behave when using devices online.