Although teaching good online manners should begin at home, teachers are an invaluable resource in ensuring a kinder online world. Here, SchoolMart details ways to reinforce responsible online behavior.
Explain the Importance of Keeping Online Information Secure
Just as a child may have a special, secure box or place where all their favorite possessions are kept, so too must they have a secure web presence. This means instructing kids in the importance of strong passwords. Using a site like this one, have students type in their password and see how secure it is. If it is not very secure, help them to come up with something stronger (without them actually revealing their password to you). Tell them their password is top secret, and that it should not be shared with anyone, even a close friend—kids enjoy secrets, and it will encourage them to keep their information private.
Weave Cyber-Bullying into Your Discussions of Peer-to-Peer Bullying
The subject of bullying is an inevitable discussion in the classroom, and is a great time to also talk about cyber-bullying. To many children, the Internet may feel like an arena where anything goes, and consequences do not matter. Remind them that just as with peer-to-peer bullying, cyber-bullying involves real people, who can be seriously impacted by a mean message or e-mail. Before writing something online, ask them to weigh the emotional impact of their statement: would they be happy if they received a similar message? If they receive a mean message from a peer, encourage them to talk about it with you, or a parent or guardian. Remind them that they have the power to walk away from the computer or phone, block the peer’s messages from being sent or simply ignore the message.
Help Them Identify the Context of Their Messages
It is important for students to understand when informal language is appropriate, and when formal language should be used. Remind students to proofread their emails, messages and other online content for spelling and grammar errors, just as they would a homework assignment for school. While a casual message to a friend on a chat board does not require the formality, of an email to a teacher, getting students in the habit of editing their online work will help them maintain and improve their overall spelling and grammar skills.
Besides basic spelling and grammar mistakes, content is important to check as well: could their message be misinterpreted? Is it unclear or confusing? Working on clarity issues in online writing will also help students succeed in creating clear writing in the classroom.
SchoolMart’s Pledge to Educators
At SchoolMart, we believe in a safe, open Internet for all, free of bullying and censorship. We believe that technology should be about empowering students, and providing tools to better enhance education. To outfit your classroom with the latest calculators and other technological devices, visit our website today!