CyberSafety

This is a transcript of the CyberSafety presentation given at the staff meeting on 23/03/11:

The school has, through the Wellbeing Committee and Life Skills program, developed a thorough and well thought out program on CyberSafety. This has been the work of many individuals who are to be thanked for their efforts in this new and challenging area. The school should be recognised where it has arranged for time to be given to staff working in this area and individuals should be thanked for their involvement when this has come from their own time. For this message to reach our students, we have relied predominantly on the homeroom teachers. They have done a great job in delivering this and should also be thanked. Finally, any teacher who has engaged in the topic with a student deserves our recognition too.

Why all the thanks? We have had no major incidents where a student’s well-being has been compromised due to a lack of knowledge about Cybersafety. Furthermore, our students are practicing good CyberSafety online. On that, a while ago I was going to talk to the staff about your privacy settings on facebook but, after looking up as many staff as I could I found that your pages were consistantly well protected. A similar survey of student pages yesterday found the same thing.

Now that we are feeling good about ourselves let us look to the future to consider how we continue to make this program effective and relevant. To aid us in this, we can take into account the findings of the study published last week by Monash University ‘Teenagers, Legal Risks and Social Networking‘.*

* and here is the link to the article in The Age

Student message

The study shows that, as we do, schools should furnish students with knowledge that will assist them in managing the risks faced in the online world. All teachers at the school should stick to delivering a consistent and uncomplicated message. That is:

  • The internet is not a dangerous place but there are those who use the internet dangerously
  • If you would not do it in public, do not do it online (and sometimes even if you would do it in public, do not do it online)
  • Students are bound by the school’s Acceptable Usage Agreement

We would be doing our students a disservice if we were to convince them that the online world is a dangerous place as it provides a rich environment for us to communicate and learn. Similarly, by overemphasis the dangers we are alienating ourselves from our students who will write off our advice as ill-informed or irrelevant. While this is true, there are a small minority of internet users who may attempt to exploit the vulnerable and our students need to use common sense in order to avoid becoming one of their victims.

We need to continue to deliver the message that behaviour in the online world should mirror behaviour in the real world and that strategies used to protect yourself when you are offline are equally valuable when you are online – you wouldn’t stand in a park at night-time and shout out your age sex and location so why would you do it online?

And, finally, that our students, while they are a student of the school are bound by the school’s Acceptable Usage Agreement which is available somewhere but I can never find it but covers taking and using photographs of other students and so forth.

Risks

While it is important that we do not overly focus on the risks, we must recognise them and share them with the students. These risks can be broadly divided into two categories: Personal risks and legal risks.

Personal Risks

  • Bullying
  • Grooming
  • Stalking

In order to avoid our students falling prey to these types of risk, we should emphasise the message that: you should be aware of the type of information that you put online and the possible ways that the information may be used once it is out there i.e. if you wouldn’t do it in public don’t do it online.

Legal Risks

  • Privacy
  • Intellectual Property Infringement
  • Defamation
  • Criminal Offences

To protect ourselves from falling foul of the law we need to ensure that we are aware of our responsibilities online. These involve not sharing our information with strangers, not sharing things that aren’t ours, not saying things that aren’t true and not threatening to kill people. And on that note, as teachers we must not do anything to implicitly or explicitly advocate breaking any of these laws by being careful about using copyright material in the classroom for example.

Conclusion

The report has found that, while students already have a very good understanding of issues relating to CyberSafety, only one per cent will talk to a teacher or parent when they have an issue. As a result, we have to make sure that we provide them with the knowledge to protect themselves and make sure that our message is clear, well-informed and everywhere.

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About timthelibrarian

Tim Harwood is a Teacher Librarian and eLearning enthusiast.
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2 Responses to CyberSafety

  1. Renata Rowe says:

    Hello TIm, I like your site – a terrific resource for teachers! I’ll send it on to our IT staff if you don’t mind as it is a great way to communicate with teachers.

    In your cybersaety section you may wish to put a link to our School’s site – http://www.iCyberSafe.com – we set it up for parents and educators to help them navigate their way around social media and keep their children safe. All the best with your site!

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