Who is Responsible?
[from NYCIST 10/25] "I have tried to keep this topic out of the "technology" curriculum since it is not a technology issue. We have classes/workshops that deal with drug use, sexuality, etc, etc run by our support services. My argument is that this should be done by support services since they are already discussing topics of this nature and are better trained to do so. Perhaps this analogy would work, why doesn't the science department discuss substance abuse since it is a chemical reaction involving the human body. We already have limited time with kids to involve them with using technolgy for curricular purposes We do talk about internet safety in our Technology classes (as I assume the science teachers talk about the effects of drugs in human biology class), but any special programs to deal with the issue, inform parents, create school policy, etc., should be the Division Heads' responsibility."
Please see Internet Filtering for products and thoughts on filtering school networks.
Layers of Defenses
- Filters - but not set so high that they block everything
- Teaching about what is appropriate and what's not
- Highly engaged students (so that when technology is being used, for the most part, the work they are doing is more compelling than the distractions.)
- A policy that limits "Internet recess" (for when the main assignment is complete the teacher will be prepared with a good additional activities so students who are done are not surfing on their own.)
- Approved ways to override the filter if it is blocking appropriate sites.
- Effective supervision and monitoring.
Sources: Dr. Mike Muir, Pamela Livingston, Nancy Willard
- Focus on building a parent learning community. Start with email and IM. Consider using a discussion board, then introduce them to blogs, wikis later. Through participation, parents will have a better grasp and understanding of the tools that their children may be using, so that they can better define how they are going to choose to parent. Consider creating a Moodle course for parents to educate them on the issues of digital citizenship.
- This PowerPoint presentation from Lowell School is an excellent resource. (Thanks to Jason Johnson for releasing it under Creative Commons.) It is from his Digital Citizenship course.
- This article from Pete Reilly puts the facts of sex abuse into perspective. This video from the Congressional Internet Caucus Advisory Committee also puts things into perspective.
- We make it a coffee talk type setup, chairs in a circle. We start by showing the list of resources we have on our Intranet which is articles, links to filtering tools, popular websites kids use. We ask that they read as homework and learn about whatever items they are not familiar with (e-mail, social networking, etc). Then we get into our number 1 tool for child safety - communication. Parents hate to hear it, but software and hardware to not protect kids. They can get online at a friends, at Starbucks, on their phone, etc. Filters don't do much to a kid who wants to get around them. We then explain how the data shows that almost all kids who meet adults for sexual activity are teens and almost all of those kids know they are meeting an adult for a sexual encounter. It is almost never the, "hi. I'm a 13 year old boy, let's meet for brownies." That is a common misconception, and Dateline and other news shows are not helping this. If you need data, get it here: http://www.netcaucus.org/events/2007/youth/. We highlight that kids who exhibit risky behavior in other areas (drug and alcohol abuse, sexual risk taking, etc) tend to take risks online. The kids who normally get in trouble online are those with social-emotional issues already. We discuss what basics we cover in our 2-9th grade tech classes in terms of online safety and privacy.
- All of the above takes about 15 minutes. Then we go into questions where we allow other parents to contribute their strategies on keeping kids safe. Some of the most helpful info comes from their peers. They ask questions like, "what are your family rules?" and hearing from other parents is a great help. The learn that not all 3rd graders have their own computers, and that's ok. Today someone asked how long should my daughter be allowed online. Another parent said the rule in my house is however long you practice piano, you can go online that long. Great strategies come from other parents.
- Being a girls school, we also talk about the specific threats that girls experience including strongly sexualized messages and then online bullying, gossiping, etc. We make it clear that most kids will not get the predator following them, but most at some point will be bullied, will receive a message that makes them feel uncomfortable, etc. They have to be prepared to deal with this as kids, and parents have to be talking about this with their kids. Main message, know where your kid is going online, and make sure your kids knows they can come to you for help.
Presenters who visit schools to help with this topic
Comments from ISED-L list-serve, 12/17/09 on internet safety speakers:
Date: Wed, 16 Dec 2009 15:44:04 -0500 From: Doug Fodeman <email@example.com> Subject: Re: Internet safety speaker
In response to recommendations for an Internet safety speaker during the last couple of days, I've seen several suggestions to contact local/state police or the FBI. Indeed, police and FBI often provide speakers who address issues about Internet safety for kids. However, I respectfully disagree and argue that choosing a speaker from the police or FBI is not the best first choice for the topic of Internet safety.
I have visited many schools who had previously invited speakers from the police and/or FBI. All have said that the speaker addresses Internet safety through the lens of law enforcement. ie. pedophiles, kidnapping, sexting, serious consequences of cyberbullying etc. The presentations are often scary (intentionally or not) and typically not appropriate for younger students. While these online risks and behaviors are very real, they do not represent the whole snapshot of risks online for our students. Also though contact from pedophiles and kidnappings are horrific, they, thankfully, represent a tiny fraction of the issues all of our students face daily.
Additionally, most law enforcement professionals are not likely to have years of experience working closely with children and teens, nor understand the developmental levels/needs of children and teens and thus understand what typically motivates them and drives their behavior. I believe that the best experts in the field of Internet safety are child experts who, not only understand developmental levels of children/teens and their behavior, but also understand what is age-appropriate and developmentally healthy for children/teens.
Besides the issues mentioned above, there are many more issues that most of our students face online daily including:
1. desensitization to mean and harassing language 2. feeling empowered to say and do things online because of the sense or
feeling of anonymity and disconnection that comes from communicating through a computer or other telecommunications device
3. using Internet tools and texting via a cell phone to avoid difficult
conversations thereby losing the opportunity to better learn communication skills for conflict resolution, navigating relationships, communicating difficult topics with people in authority, etc...
4. being manipulated in a variety of ways because of their implusivity,
poor/immature decision-making skills and need to be liked and included in their peer group
5. exposure to age-inappropriate material that forces them to deal with
issues for which they are not developmentally ready thereby accelerating their development in unhealthy ways
6. learning that it is OK to develop relationships online, sometimes
anonymously or secretively, at very early ages when they are still developing many basic social skills.
7. trying to use telecommunications tools to resolve conflicts such as
using IM or texting to resolve hurt feelings or an argument
Also, Internet safety experts, who are also experts at understanding and working with children/teens, understand how to speak to kids at different developmental levels in age-appropriate ways. They understand how kids process information and what kids are capable of understanding e.g concrete vs. abstract concepts, cause and effect, planning for postive outcomes, etc.
I do not mean to disrespect law enforcement professionals who may be working in the field of Internet safety. However, I believe that those of us, such as teachers/guidance counselors/child psychologists, etc...who have a great deal of experience and understanding of kids, as well as a thorough understanding of all the problems and issues they face online, stand the best chance for teaching them how to better protect themselves and develop life-long skills to reduce their risks online.
Our research has shown that kids are doing things on the Internet at younger and younger ages every year (such as posting videos of themselves on YouTube, creating Facebook or MySpace accounts, or social broadcasting), and that they are being targeted and manipulated more than ever. We need to provide as much education as possible to help them navigate the online world.
Doug Fodeman Co-Director ChildrenOnline.org
Software and Hardware to Help Parents Control Internet Access From Home
A good starting place for looking at software for web filtering, monitoring and computer control is Doug Fodeman and Marje Monroe's website www.children-online.org, click on the Resources page. Or to get to it directly (without frames): http://www.children-online.org/Frames/resources.html#filters
Safe Eyes may be the best overall (and customizable) solution for PC and Macs and one copy works for something like 3 users and 4 computers (mixed platform). Those concerned about privacy might not like the fact that you can't really turn off the monitoring, though. -Joe Peacock
IMSafer software designed to protect kids who chat online, for Mac OS X and Windows Vista. The basic service is free to use.
eBlaster from Spector. A program that sends a daily email from a child's computer to the parent's email account, reporting on usage of the computer.
Fred Bartels wrote: The dLink SecureSpot seems to be a good product for filtering an entire home network. I haven't tried one but if it works as advertised it should do the trick. dLink SecureSpot
I just bought a D-Link DSD-150 ($90 at Best Buy, including 1st year subscription. After that $80 per year for up to 4 computers on the home network). I installed it in my home. Setup is clearly geared to Windows computers (CD has an autorun.exe with no Mac executable that does the setup guide). To install on my Mac I had to dive down into the document folder on the CD and read the pdf. But the process was pretty straightforward. Basically just cable it between the modem and router. Then when you try to access the web it presents you with a registration screen. Fill in the blanks and it works. Though there were some surprising omissions in the doc (like the LAN IP address of the device, and admin login info for configuring the admin pages. Had to find them on their support site, once I got back online)
Default settings are considered reasonable for 18+ years old. Mostly just block porn and a few peer-to-peer apps considered dangerous. Was surprised to see iTunes music store blocked. There are many choices of what web sites to block. I tried to get thru the filter, like our students do, and was refused the ability to even search for porn on Google, and was refused image searches completely. But at any point, I could add a blocked site to the white list by entereing the master password. I didn't try many of the various blocking categories to see how flexible I could tighten or loosen the web filter.
There is a "thin client" that you install on your PC or Mac. Simple install, and brings with it anti-virus, spam block and a bunch of other stuff (not tested for effectiveness, and wonder if they work on a Mac, or even if they have value for a Mac). Was pleased to see that the client is optional for web blocking. You can set the web blocking at one of 3 security levels. The most secure level requires the thin client and prevents web access when away from the home network. So, for example, a child can't connect to the neighbor's wireless. Though I suppose a child with an admin password to his laptop could uninstall the client and then jump on the neighbor's wireless.
Only an hour of testing, but first impressions are positive. Were I to recommend it, I might consider writing my own "How to set up" doc for Mac users. Am sure it would be confusing for most non-techie Mac users to install. I tried to call tech support and abandoned it after a long wait time. Not sure how good their Mac support is.
Thanks for the suggestion, Fred. Perhaps I will reply with a more extensive evaluation after I use it for a while.
-Tom Smith, Park School
Helpful Organizations / Websites
Internet Safety Brochure Nine important steps to Internet safety and protecting our children.
Internet Safety Tips Tips for new and advanced Web users on using the Internet wisely.
SafeKids Cyberspace safety site for kids and adults. Provides news articles laws, discussions of how to keep kids and adults safe on the Internet.
Internet Safety Education Protect Kids from Online Predators Learn Safe-Responsible Internet Use
Wiredkids.org Videoclip of kids telling kids not to meet people in person that they talk to online, etc.
Court TV’s Al Roker Investigates: katie.com Al Roker hosts a special Court TV documentary based on the true story of Katherine Tarbox.
Web Wise Kids Internet Safety: Parent Program
iKeepSafe.org Internet safety for kids, parents and teachers (Developed by a group from Australia)
Digital Citizenship and Creative Content downloadable lessons geared to Upper School students
YouTube Videos on Digital Citizenship:
For very young children:
Social Networking Sites
Approaches to Student Rules
We want the students to know that we are their partners when it comes to staying safe. We have an open door policy so that a student can come in and have us review his/her mySpace or facebook page to be sure it is safe. If s/he does this, s/he will not get in trouble for any content. We encourage them to use our email as their personal email so that if someone is harassing them, we can block them, at the student's request. We have had several students let us know when someone is making them uncomfortable on facebook. After students bringing something to my attention, we have reported offenders to their ISPs and even to local law enforcement. We tell our students that they may use their real age, say the are under 14 to keep their profiles automatically private, or say they are something outrageous (98 is very popular).
Where a student might be endangering herself and communicating with someone online, we consider this to primarily be a counseling issue. We strongly believe and tell parents that a determined student who knows that her school email and chat sessions are monitored will just open a new hotmail account or use a friend's computer or go to the public library or get a prepaid cell phone that no one knows about. A student will always be able to find a way to communicate with someone. Thus, if the issue is seen as a counseling issue, you can get to the root of the problem and help the student.
To draw a comparison: In the dorms, we have a rule that prohibits students from smoking. They are not allowed to have candles, matches or lighters. We have smoke alarms in each room. We have room checks for cleanliness and safety on a regular basis. So, if a student hides a candle and matches, then disables her smoke alarm, then lights the candle on a desk where she's just dumped the contents of her bookbag looking for a certain object and ends up lighting her math notes on fire, haven't we already taken every reasonable precaution?
Student Rules for Wiki, Blog, etc. Participation
- Student Contract at Nutmeg Books - this contract for wiki participation includes Word files for parental signature
Research and Studies About Sexual Predators
Essentially, it takes a hard look at the" 1 in 5 children will be solicited on-line" statistic, it's validity, and some problems with interpretation by groups like the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. It highlights factual issues, given that recent data states that number of children solicited has declined, and study design issues (it does not distinguish solicitors by age, or properly express children's reactions). Retrieved from ISED-L, 2/29/08, CC3 a/s-a/n-c
- David Pogue's Circuits column on this topic.
Examples from the Media of Misuse of Social Networking Sites