There are numerous actions that teachers and parents can take to teach teens about online stranger danger. Providing them with safety guidelines as well as an environment that fosters the practice of these guidelines is essential. In addition, online activities can be incorporated into daily classroom routines and home routines. Research shows that students are not routinely educated about sexual abuse in the context of formal education, nor are they frequently educated about basic online safety at school (Davidson & Martellozo, 2008). Including online activities in the classroom and home environments is a helpful way of ensuring teens can get support and guidance when it comes to protecting themselves online.
We have provided a few ideas below to help in guiding students to learn about online safety.
Having a conversation about online safety is an important step in educating teens about the dangers of the internet. Having a discussion can seem overwhelming if you do not know where to begin. Below are a few questions related to social networking that you can use to get the conversation started.
- What websites do you enjoy?
- What kind of privacy settings do you use on your social networking sites?
- What kind of information do you think is ok to post? What is not ok?
- Do you post pictures? What kind of pictures? Where is it ok to post pictures?
- Who are you friends with? Who do you correspond with?
- What should you do if someone wants to meet you?
- What should you do if someone makes you feel uncomfortable?
Posting safety guidelines is a great way of providing students with a visual reminder of the expectations. Having a visual can be especially helpful for students with cognitive disabilities. Hanging safety guidelines is easy and can be done at school and at home. Simply create guidelines, print them out, and hang them next to a computer. Below an example of a guidelines page that you can hang.
To download as a document click Safety Reminders
For many students with cognitive disabilities, social stories are effective tools to teach a variety of skills. When creating a social story for your child or student make sure to include specific information that you want them to learn. Here is an example of a social story that you could use to teach your child/student about specific guidelines pertaining to being safe when networking on the internet. You may click on the icon to enlarge the social story.
(photos courtesy of Google Images)
Having your students create a video of their own can be a very powerful tool. Seeing themselves completing and discussing targeted skills can help reinforce desired outcomes. It is important to tailor videos specifically to your individual students. Here is a an example of how you could create a quick video that doesn’t take a lot of time but can be very successful in teaching important skills.
Click here to find a link to an example social story and video script that can be used for creating a social story or video about safety when social networking on the internet.
Classroom/Family Monitored Blogs
Teachers can create classroom-monitored blogs that are student centered. Students can write about topics that are meaningful to them. Teachers can utilize a classroom blog to emphasize online safety practices.
The Specials is an internet docsoap that features a group of young adults with disabilities who live together in Brighton. The documentary shows how they live their lives day to day. Not only would this be a great social networking group to belong to, it is also a model for what could be an opportunity that you could help your child create for themselves.
Click here to view The Specials Facebook page
Click here to view Daniela’s Journey, another example of a monitored blog. This blog is posted by a young adult woman and her mother about her journey becoming an independent woman.
Modified Email Accounts
Coglink and iShare are personalized, simple-to-use, safe email programs by Personalized Technologies that come with automated training and a HelpDesk staff for questions and troubleshooting. Coglink and iShare help you build your own social networking community on the internet via email.
The programers personalize your email software to include just the people you want to email with. Those who send spam and viruses will be left out of your community. Coglink also offers a learning center, which educates individuals on safe use of email and the Internet as well as teaching information about wireless Internet use and how to access the Internet. Created by Personalized Technologies.
For more ideas please see our resource page
Davidson, Julia C., and Elena Martellozzo (2008). Protecting vulnerable young people in cyberspace from sexual abuse: raising awareness and responding globally. Police Practice and Research, 9(4) 277-289
Photos Courtesy of Google Images
Permission has been obtained for video footage