New challenges, new resources
With the new school year comes new challenges for parents and teachers trying to keep kids safer online. Our NetSmartz Workshop is kicking-off the back to school season with new resources for all ages - including a redesigned www.NSTeens.org, new games and activities.
According to the Pew Internet & American Life Project,between 93 and 96 percent of teens ages 12 to 17 use the Internet. And while the Internet can be a fascinating place to explore, learn and have fun, we need to help our children use it safely.
Teachers are often responsible for helping guide students how to avoid dangers online. Cindy Etherton, a middle school teacher in Oregon, has used the NetSmartz Workshop to help teach Internet safety for five years. One of the ways she does so is by developing a scavenger hunt of www.NetSmartz.org for her students.
“This allows them to explore information based a little more on their interests,” Etherton said.
Use of technology has increased in general in recent years and 78 percent of teens 12 to 17 now own smartphones. With this increase Etherton has seen a significant rise in cyberbullying and sexting.
“I wish that these weren’t issues in middle school, but they are,” Etherton said.
While Etherton has found that her middle school students are able to embrace anti-cyberbullying messaging, for younger children it’s important to start with the basics.
NetSmartzKids is designed for children 5-10. To help them start off the school year right we have released “It’s OK to Tell.” This video, accompanied by a discussion guide and two activity cards, teaches students in primary and intermediate grades to tell a trusted adult if they feel sad, scared or confused because of something they’ve seen online.
When you start young you can build a foundation for future lessons. By the time our children reach high school it’s important that they know how to make wise choices on their own. “6 Degrees of Information” explores what six clicks of the mouse can reveal about someone to help older students be more critical of what they share online.
All of these lessons are just as important in the home as they are in the classroom. Etherton says its important that fears don’t keep families from learning about and embracing the Internet.
“Many students are being told they can’t use the computer at at home because parents are too afraid,” Etherton said. “It is difficult to practice wise decision making when you aren’t using Internet.”