Internet Safety

Internet Safety -- What Every Parent Should Know

 

Introduction

Although the Internet offers tremendous resources for learning, there are very real dangers associated with unsupervised, open-access for students. Everyone has heard of the "bad stuff" available online, yet Internet-related crimes against young people are sharply on the rise. Please take the time to learn more about how to use Internet resources safely.

One area of increasing concern is the sharing of personal information on the Internet. Students are taught from a young age to be conscious about safety and to use caution when it comes to dealing with strangers. Children know that they should not open the door to a stranger, let someone on the phone know they are home alone, or to talk to strangers. Unfortunately, however, many young people have no reservations about sharing personal information online. The feeling of safety students experience while sitting in their own home can be shattered by an Internet predator who is skilled at piecing bits of information together to actually locate and abduct them. 

There are several ways students can get into trouble by sharing information with others online. Chatting, Blogging (online journals), emailing, or posting on a website such as MySpace.com all contribute to a growing epidemic among students who do not see the dangers of interacting with strangers online. If you choose to allow your children to chat or email, they should only interact with people they know. Blogging or posting personal thoughts or feelings online is another way students can get lured by Internet predators. If they Blog, students should only do so on a secure, password protected area. MySpace.com is a website that many of our students access to share information. This site is setup as a virtual meeting room where teens and adults can ?meet? (members are required to be 18 years old, but students as young as 10 are able to create accounts by falsifying their information). By posting personal information and photos, students are inviting Internet predators into their world and into your home. Many of the people on MySpace.com post provocative photos and information; it is not a great place for your child to spend his or her free time.

Tips for Parents:

  • NEVER allow your children access to the Internet in their bedroom or any location that is not centrally located in your home.
  • Learn as much as you can about your computers and Internet safety so you can recognize what your child is doing. You can learn all about Internet Safety by signing up at www.isafe.org and going through the FREE online training.
  • Purchase and install an Internet filter on your computer and lock sites you don?t want your children visiting. (We have filters on all district computers, which are constantly being updated).
  • Keep computers that have Internet connection in plain view so that you can quickly and frequently check what your child is doing online.
  • Discuss Internet safety with your children and let them know that sharing information online is like opening the door to a stranger. 
  • Monitor what children do on the Internet by checking the history of your Internet Browser (click on the History link in the browser?s toolbar).
  • Set time limits on when the computer can be used
  • Set rules for ?Instant Messaging? and review who is on their ?Buddy List?

 

What are the Middletown Public Schools doing to educate students, teachers, and parents, about Internet Safety?

For All

The Educational Technology website now includes Internet safety information (http://www.middletownschools.org/curriculum/educational_technology)

This article has been written for the Spotlight on Education

Middletown PD and PTAs have assisted in pooling resources

Media have been contacted to spread the word regarding meetings and issues surrounding Internet Safety

All Internet connected computers have been filtered for content

All computers have been protected from tampering with Deep Freeze software

 

For Students

Student assemblies will be scheduled

Health curriculum will be revised to include Internet safety lessons (www.isafe.org)

 

For Teachers

School Counselors were involved in a meeting with Detective Liseo from Middletown PD and learned the dangers of MySpace.com (1/16/06)

All MHS staff were presented with Internet safety information (2/9/06)

All WWMS (2/7/06) & Keigwin (3/6/06) staff were presented with Internet safety information

Teachers will be trained to deliver the iSafe curriculum (www.isafe.org

 

For Parents

Parent Information Meetings (Panel Discussions) have been scheduled for March 9 (MHS) and March 16 (WWMS and Keigwin)

Parent Leadership Training Institute presentations will occur on 2/15

 

Conclusion

Internet safety has been in the news lately, highlighting the real dangers law enforcement professionals are dealing with. The Middletown Press just recently presented information on Internet safety and MySpace.com. Dateline NBC has produced several specials, ?To Catch a Predator,? in the past few months that illustrate how common, brazen, and persistent Internet predators are. Dateline?s hidden camera investigation uncovered adults from all walks of life meeting young children for what they clearly anticipated would be sexual encounters. The dangers are real even though we are working diligently here at school, it is very important that you, as parents/guardians, take the same proactive approach at home.

 

The Middletown Public Schools will host two Internet safety presentations coming up on March 9th (MHS) and March 16th (WWMS) We hope to share some information and answer your questions. With a little proactive diligence and a partnership with parents, we can make the Internet a safer place for kids. Remember, you never know who?s on the other side of the computer screen.

 

For further information, checkout these helpful websites:

 

For Everyone

http://www.isafe.org

http://www.wiredkids.org/parents/parentingonline/index.html

 

For Parents

http://www.ou.edu/oupd/isparent.htm

http://www.kdcop.com/pdf/Internet_Safety_Guide.pdf - Downloadable guide

http://www.missingkids.com/cybertip/

http://pedowatch.com/

 

 

For Young Students

http://www.ikeepsafe.org/--index.php Interactive cartoon

 

For Teens

http://www.safeteens.com/safeteens.htm

http://tcs.cybertipline.com/ - Don't believe the hype?

 

For Teachers

http://www.cybersmartcurriculum.org/home/

http://www.cyberangels.org/

 

General Information

http://msnbc.msn.com/id/10912603/ - Dateline: To Catch a Predator III

http://www.isafe.org/imgs/pdf/education/Blogging.pdf - Promise & Peril of Blogging

http://www.isafe.org/imgs/pdf/education/CyberBullying.pdf - Cyber Bullying

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/11064451/ - Dateline Info on MySpace.com