Teaching Kids Internet Safety
Basic Web Safety for Kids
Prior to finding the kinds of games and activities that drive home the point of Internet safety, it is a good idea to review the basic ground rules that any youngster on the World Wide Web should observe. The Federal Bureau of Investigations lists five such safety reminders to teach children:
- Personal data is a no-no online.
- Break off contact with bullies and those who scare others.
- Do not set up secret meetings with online friends.
- Openly communicate with mom or dad if something weird is going on online.
- Do not believe everything someone tells you online.
iKeepSafe narrows down the three target areas where children may likely get in trouble while working, learning or playing online:
- Badly chosen contacts, which can be an unknown or known cyber bully, a hacker, phisher or child predator.
- Out of place content that the child accidentally views, especially while engaging with social networking communities.
- Improper conduct of either the child or someone the youngster interacts with while online.
Driving Home the Point with 3 Free Online Activities
Parents may have spelled out the rules and the children may have dutifully recited them time and again, but do the lessons behind the rules actually hit home? Would your child actually recognize the behavior of a cyber bully? Online teaching tools help drive home the point of parental lectures.
- Wired Kids offers a “Cyberbullying Quiz.” It is aimed at preteens and teens. Youngsters in this age group are not very good at recognizing the subtleties of bullying, such as the improperly shared secret, the gossip they engage in about another child or even the real-life conflicts that continue to rage on via the Internet.
- PBS Kids crafted the “Webonauts Internet Academy” for the pre-preteen set who is already online and interacting with others. It reaffirms the ageless playground lessons of ignoring the bully and starving him (or her) of attention, while also reinforcing the need for cyber security with respect to passwords. The game also helps children understand how strangers can get personal information about them, especially when they fill out web profiles on various sites. The game is lengthy, but well worth the investment in time.
- KidsCom Jr. presents a basic question and answer activity for its “Internet Safety Game.” It covers topics such as asking permission to go online, safeguarding personal information and also steering clear of plagiarizing when doing online research.
Please keep in mind that teaching kids Internet safety really cannot be outsourced altogether. Especially when they children are younger, an adult should be next to them as they begin exploring the Internet. As the kids get older, it is a good idea to periodically revisit the issues of cyberbullying, phishing and stalking. Be watchful for signs of distress when these topics are mentioned; the youngster may have had some online interactions they don’t know how to deal with.
- Federal Bureau of Investigations. “Safety Tips” (accessed April 28, 2011)
- iKeepSafe. “For Educators: Teaching Tools to Keep safe Online” (accessed April 28, 2011)
- Photo Credit: “Kid playing on computer” by Marisa Ravn/Wikimedia Commons