I've been thinking a lot about internet safety lately. I'll be attending a parent/community internet safety workshop next week sponsored by our State Attorney General. My concern is it will overemphasize "stranger danger" online predators, and underemphasize (is that a word?) cyberbullying.
I've come across three resources I'd like to share. The first is a well done 4 page PDF from the University of New Hampshire's "Crimes Against Children Research Center" that explains some of the myths and realities of internet safety: http://www.unh.edu/ccrc/internet-crimes/Internet%20Factsheet_portrait%20version_2-6-08_khf.pdf
The second is some very practical, succinct advice from Clarence Fisher which I will quote directly from his blog (but please read his entire post):
Five solid rules I teach the kids in my class to be safe online:
1.) Don't linger in places that may be high risk. While you may have the need occasionally to be in a chat room or in another space like that, just as you wouldn't hang out in dark back alleys for long, don't be in these spaces either.
2.) Work hard to protect your online identity. Protect the basics: your whole name, details about your family, your address, IM address, etc. These are the basics that are usually used to find you online. Work hard to keep the breadcrumbs to a minimum.
3.) IM is students' main way of communicating online. Keep your accounts safe and your password protected. Make sure nobody is messing with your FaceBook, Myspace, bebo, etc., accounts. Be aware.
4.) Read the stuff that is out there. I often pass on articles, write blog posts on our class blog, discuss things in class and ask for their input and opinions about some of the terrible things that happen online. I don't think by any stretch it is encouraging kids to do the same thing. It helps potential bullies to know that we are aware of some of the things that happen online and it lets potential victims be aware of some of the things that have happened.
5.) Know how your technology works. Know about your webcam, your audio software, your camera, know where your SD cards are and your cell phone. If students know this kind of stuff, they will again know when it has been messed with or when someone is trying to get them to turn it on at a time or in a place that is inappropriate.
And finally, an in-depth (18 page) article from the "Crimes Against Children Research Center" that appeared in the Feb-March issue of American Psychologist: http://www.apa.org/journals/releases/amp632111.pdf