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With a bit of mentoring, kids can become good digital citizens. This mentoring will help them stay safe online and yet empower them to make the most of technology. It is safe to say that gadget addiction can affect the health of a student as well as their academic life. The job of training responsible and safe internet users is thus, not limited to parents alone; schools and community too must collaborate to offer children a holistic environment that promotes academic and social development.
Schools are the second homes for children, where teachers replace parents as knowledge-givers and discipline-enforcers. Children tend to have greater faith in what their teachers tell them than their parents, especially when it comes to new technology. That’s why schools are the best options for imparting cyber safety education. Their contribution is vital in preparing children for the virtual world. Topics like cyber civics, cyber-etiquettes, cyber-hygiene and cyber-safety can be explained best in a classroom. Unfortunately, most schools offer only a brief coverage of cyber safety.
Therefore, in today’s blog post, I intend to touch upon how Teachers can guide netizens of the future. While these are only general guidelines, here’s how we can look at initiating some discussion topics with them depending on their age:
Discussion topics with Pre-tweens:
1) Asking for permission before using a device
2) How to close all tabs and why it isn’t safe to click on pop-ups (because of virus attacks)
3) That the concept of “Stranger = danger” exists online too
4) Bedtime is for stories & lullabies and cuddling with parents, so say bye-bye to video games after dinner
5) Informing parents if someone or some message bothers them online
Remember: This is the right time to start cyber safety training as their interest in online activities is comparatively less. The focus can be on enhancing social skills that will be helpful online too.
Discussion topics with Tweens:
1) How to create a strong password and its importance
2) How to determine safe websites and apps. Also why to distrust free offers & lottery wins
3) Why should we follow age norms and avoid requests online that come in from strangers
4) Plagiarism: What is online stealing? Why it is wrong to download pirated content?
Creating an e-mail ID & safety measures to be employed to avoid scams, spams and hacks
5) Why not to share pics and personal details generally
Remember: At this age, children tend to play games online, watch You-Tube videos and movies and create their own e-mail IDs. Hence the focus is on imparting education that helps them do this safely.
Discussion topics with Teens:
1) Digital hygiene and security; installing and running security software, keeping ID and personal details private and connecting wisely
2) Digital footprints and consequences; especially its impact on college admissions and recruitment
3) Digital safety: How to identify a potential threat, like scam, phishing attack, predators
4) Digital ethics- Identifying right or wrong practices in cyber space
5) Digital addiction- How to control the urge to check messages, answer calls, play games at odd hours and when in company of people; why it is unhealthy to take devices to bed
6) Perils of hacking- It is important that this tech-savvy generation know that if they share details carelessly online their accounts can get hacked. In addition, if they hack someone’s account, they stand the danger of facing legal consequences
7) How to stand up to cyberbullying Consequences of cyberbullying
Remember: By this age, children may start signing up on social media, join hangouts and various other online communities. They might interact with stranger’s online and sharing information and experiences. This, therefore seems like the right time to reinforce their learning of ethical practice, etiquette, safety and security tools, don’t you think? This Teacher’s Day, it’s my sincere hope that schools and education boards recognise the importance of digital literacy and take steps to include it.
Stay safe online folks!!
A very Happy Teacher’s Day to all great souls who serve the community selflessly by ‘igniting generations of young minds’**
** (My tribute to two of modern India’s, most revered teachers- the shining torch bearers of education, Dr. S. Radhakrishnan and Dr.A.P.J. Abdul Kalam)