The rapid move to distance learning has thrown students into the deep dark waters of the internet without the time to ensure safety on the internet. It’s one of the challenges of the virtual classroom and a particularly important one to combat. While students now might be digital natives, there is still a crucial need to make sure they know how to navigate the online world safely.
Discussing the possible dangers of the digital world arms students with the knowledge that there are things to avoid online. It also sets a tone to ensure a student knows how to choose safe browsing to avoid falling prey to malicious content whether they are on school-owned devices or their own.
How to establish internet safety for students
If a student needs to take their device home, IT administrators and teachers need to consider effective and all-encompassing ways to ensure that students are set up for safe, secure browsing.
The best strategy to ensure students are unable to access harmful content online is two-fold:
- Teaching appropriate behaviour so that the student takes advantage of the pros of the internet, and knows how to avoid the cons, and
- Setting up the device with the right software so students are safe on the internet.
Teaching the basics of student internet safety
Making internet safety part of a lesson plan can ensure that students are getting the right information for secure and safe browsing. This can be through classes centred around safety or simply takeaways about internet safety in other lessons.
Communication behind the keyboard
To avoid falling them into the trap of keyboard warriors, cyberbullying, and unsuitable tones and interactions, students should understand that verbal communication and cyber-communication (especially in text-form) are different.
It’s important to explain that if they wouldn’t say something to someone’s face, they shouldn’t say it online. Instilling appropriate cyber-communication skills can help to protect them from unnecessary ugly arguments or conflict with others online.
Personal particulars are private
Ensuring a student remains safe from malicious entities also means protecting their information. Explaining to students why keeping information (including personal data, passwords, addresses and phone numbers) private is so important will help them appreciate the importance of how to keep their information private.
The Why and the How are equally important in ensuring internet safety for students. Helping students develop a positive attitude towards lifelong learning can greatly contribute to safe behaviour online.
If they understand the reason behind why they shouldn’t share their passwords (with their friends to help in a game, for example) they will more likely hold their information with care in the future.
Ponder on it before publishing
A golden rule to teach a student: Pause and consider before hitting that enticing “post” button. There are important questions students should ask themselves before posting something online to avoid unnecessary damage or conflict:
- How will this be received?
- Is this what I mean to say?
- Would I be happy to say this in public?
- Will I regret this after publishing?
- Would I be happy for my parents or guardian to see what I wrote?
This quick-fire checklist is also helpful to teach a student that the fewer negative online footprints they leave, the better.
Helping keep the internet safe for everyone
Showing students how to flag any inappropriate content can go a long way in ensuring the overall safety of their time online. It’s easy to learn how to use the reporting or flagging features, but without the knowledge of it, the opportunity is lost.
This could be for online resources, social media platforms and other applications with ads or external content.
This also helps to teach that malicious content does exist, but there is a way to help keep the online space as safe and fun as possible.
The final barrier of safety
Despite a student’s best efforts to practice safe internet browsing, unfortunately inappropriate content is ever-present.
To ensure that there’s a safeguard in place against children seeing the wrong thing online, web filtering’s purpose is to prevent students from accessing inappropriate content. Mobile Guardian’s comprehensive web filtering offers a powerful layer of protection against harmful content online. With category, keyword, and YouTube filtering, the internet can be a secure place where students can explore and learn safely.
For more insight into overcoming the challenges of the virtual classroom, see our article here with more useful ways to ensure educators and parents are able to get the best out of devices within their learning environments.