Teaching Children About Digital Footprints

As we have introduced a 1:1 netbook program in grade four at my school, we are focussing on helping the students learn how to use their new devices to their full potential.

We have been doing some work on internet safety, and this week have been looking at digital footprints.

Not one of the 54 students in my double class knew what the term meant before we delved deeper.

Wikipedia describes a digital footprint as:

“…a trail left by interactions in a digital environment; including the use of TV, mobile phone, the internet and other devices and sensors.”

Unfortunately, I’ve come across a number of resources which only focus on the negatives of digital footprints and promote a culture of fear.

The message I like to promote is that we should protect our digital footprints and try to ensure that they are positive. Encouraging students to avoid posting or doing anything online just seems counter productive.

I’ve often wondered if having no digital footprint at all is almost as bad as having a negative one. This is something Chris Betcher has written about before.

Four years ago Chris said:

“I can see a day in the not too distant future … where your ‘digital footprint’ will carry far more weight than anything you might include in a resume or CV.”

Perhaps that day has come?

***

Alarmingly, even government sites like the Victorian Better Health channel begins their article on internet safety with a scary image of the term digital footprint:

“The Internet can be a dangerous place for the unwary, particularly children. A person’s ‘digital footprint’ can be as easy to follow as their real footprints.

I’m not denying that the internet can be a dangerous place, but so can the street. The internet can also be a wonderful place and this shouldn’t be forgotten.

I think it’s important to ensure a balance by teaching about the dangers of a negative or revealing digital footprint, while also promoting the benefits of a positive digital footprint.

The Age of Candid Camera

I’m sure I’m not the only one who cringes when I see teachers creating digital footprints that could be harmful to their own reputation (eg. on Facebook). Perhaps underestimating the public nature of the internet is a widespread problem.

Another scenario that I’ve observed fairly regularly is teachers not having a digital footprint at all. These issues are worrisome to me when thinking about the need for digital footprints to be discussed in classrooms.

If this article is to be believed, 92% of children under two already have a digital footprint. I think this shows how important education around digital footprints is.

So what do students need to know about digital footprints?

  • the internet is a public space with a large audience
  • digital footprints can be searched or shared
  • once online, things can be there forever
  • you should always think before you post online
  • you should keep certain personal details private
  • individuals can take control of their digital footprints
  • digital footprints can be helpful or harmful to reputations

Resources for teaching about digital footprints:

Do you have any thoughts on teaching about digital footprints?

Please leave a comment and share your advice, resources or thoughts!

Image attributions: The Age of Candid Camera; Footprints (by-nc-sa)

Internet Safety Posters

I recently wrote three posts around the issues of internet use and cyber safety.

10 Internet Safety Tips for Students

10 Internet Use Tips for Teachers

10 Internet Safety Tips for Parents

I have transferred the information in these posts into a set of posters which might make a useful display or handout. Feel free to download or print them for your own educational use.

10 Internet SafetyTips for Students Poster November 2012

 

10 Internet Use Tips for Teachers Poster November 2012

 

10 Internet Safety Tips for Parents Poster November 2012

If you’re having trouble downloading the Scribd documents, you can find the PDF versions below.

10 Internet SafetyTips for Students Poster November 2012

10 Internet Use Tips for Teachers Poster November 2012

10 Internet Safety Tips for Parents Poster November 2012

Good luck!

10 Internet Safety Tips for Parents

I recently published posts with 10 Internet Safety Tips for Students and 10 Internet Safety Tips for Teachers.

If parents, teachers and children can all work together to build a culture of safe and positive internet use, problems can be minimised.

Internet safety is a topic that should be regularly and authentically discussed in classrooms, staffrooms and homes.

Here are some key messages around internet safety that could help parents help their children.

In addition to following these tips, parents might want to install filters on their home computers.

1. Don’t let potential problems stop you from letting your child use technology for their education and personal interests.

2. Put computers in a communal area of the house and don’t allow portable internet devices (laptops, phones, tablets etc) in the bedroom.

3. Find out what your child is doing online. Talk to them regularly about what websites they visit and take the time sit with them as they use the internet. Make sure you’re familiar with how the sites that they visit work.

4. Encourage your child to tell you if they ever have a problem on the internet or if they’re ever unsure about anything. Reassure them that you won’t take away their connection to the internet if issues occur.

5. Remind your child to keep personal information private. YAPPY is a useful acronym to remind children of the personal information they should not share on public online spaces (blogs, forums etc.) – Your full name, address, phone number, passwords, your plans.

6. Remind your child that not everything on the internet is true and not all internet users tell the truth.

7. Don’t support your child to sign up for sites that are 13+ if they are under age (Facebook, YouTube, Instagram etc). Make sure your child sets their online accounts to private to limit access to people they know well (when they are old enough to sign up).

8. Encourage your child to balance their leisure time so they’re not spending all of their time online.

9. Create your own internet rules for your household and have your child agree to adhere to them.

10. Explore government resources for parents so you can educate yourself and protect your children on the Cybersmart website.

How to offer internet safety tips to parents is another question worth thinking about.

I am thinking of adding a page on my class blog with tips for families. Regularly publishing tips in the school newsletter could also be beneficial.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/44102337@N03/7882614208 Attribution: CC BY-NC 2.0

I am also considering inviting parents for a cyber safety afternoon early in the new school year. The event could involve children and parents learning about and discussing safe internet use together. Hopefully the lines of communication would then continue into the home environment.

What other internet safety tips for parents would you add? I’d love parents to share what advice they think is important.

How can schools pass on internet safety tips to parents?

10 Internet Use Tips for Teachers

Last week I attended a presentation by former police officer and cyber safety expert, Susan McLean. There was a lot to think about at this session and I wrote a post with 10 Internet Safety Tips for Students. 

I do have some concerns about the way some teachers conduct themselves online and promote internet safety in the classroom.

I think it’s important that internet safety is regularly discussed amongst staff in schools. Technology moves so quickly and trends can change dramatically in the space of months.

Teachers who are not regular users of the internet, and even some who do use the internet extensively, don’t know what they don’t know.

Issues such as cyber bullying, sexting and internet addiction are only going to become more prominent as children’s access to technology continues to increase. It’s so important that teachers are equipped to teach about these issues as a preventative, and follow-up issues as they occur.

CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 http://kexino.com/

Here are some key messages around internet safety and online conduct that I believe all teachers should be aware of.

Some of these ideas were gathered from Susan McLean’s session.

  1. Don’t allow possible problems with internet use stop you from making the most of technology both in your professional and personal life.
  2. If your employer has guidelines for internet use, be aware of them. DEECD employees should be familiar with Using Social Media: Guide for Department Employees. 
  3. Develop school internet use policies for your staff, students and families. Make sure all members of the school community are aware of your policies and guidelines.
  4. Teach your students about internet safety regularly and authentically. I have found blogging to be an excellent way to have an ongoing dialogue about these issues. Make the most of online resources such as the Australian government website, Cybersmart, and the US site, NetSmartz.
  5. Teach your students about basic internet safety tips. Students should also be taught about plagiarism, copyright, Creative Commons, search engines and effective research techniques. These are important areas for teachers and students to know about if they want to use the internet effectively and legally.
  6. Find out what your students do online when they’re outside of your classroom. If you’re not sure about the online spaces that your students and school community are using, take time to explore and find out how the various sites work.
  7. If students or parents approach you with issues regarding cyber bullying or safe internet use, it’s important to deal with them. Encourage your students to talk to you about any concerns they might be having with their internet use.
  8. Choose sensible names for your usernames, email addresses etc. Use strong passwords and change them a number of times a year. This Common Craft video provides an excellent explanation of secure passwords.
  9. Protect your digital reputation: don’t put anything online that you wouldn’t want your friends, family, colleagues and employers to see. Protect your personal social media or other internet accounts with privacy settings.
  10. Avoid adding students and parents as friends on personal social networks. I believe the exception would be if your account is purely professional. However, do not add children who are under 13 on social networks with age restrictions.

What other internet use tips for teachers would you add? I’m sure there are many more.

How does your school help equip teachers to deal with issues around internet safety?

10 Internet Safety Tips for Students

Last night I attended a presentation by former police officer and cyber safety expert, Susan McLean. She addressed many issues around internet safety, cyber bullying, sexting, problematic internet behaviour and digital reputation.

Attribution: non-commercial
www.flickr.com/photos/27340884@N07/2550793685

Internet safety is something I try to address frequently and authentically with my students. I have found education around this issue to be so important.

When students develop internet behaviours without guidance, problems are sure to occur. My hope is that teaching students some key messages from a young age will help them navigate their way safely through the internet as they grow older.

I have found blogging to be an excellent way to teach students about being responsible digital citizens and members of online communities. I have seen other tools such as Edmodo used to promote positive internet behaviours too.

Here are some key messages around internet safety that I believe all students should be aware of.

Most of these are tips I share with my students with some ideas from Susan McLean.

  1. Always ask an adult if you’re unsure of anything when you are online.
  2. Don’t sign up for sites that are 13+ if you are not old enough (Facebook, YouTube, Instagram etc).
  3. Remember YAPPY (the personal information you should not share online) – Your full name, address, phone number, passwords, your plans. 
  4. Don’t add people as online friends unless you know them in real life or have parent permission. Never arrange to meet an online friend without talking to a parent.
  5. Remember that you cannot believe everything you read on the internet and you can’t trust everything online friends tell you.
  6. Choose sensible names for usernames, email addresses etc. 
  7. Talk to your parents about what you’re doing online and let them know when you’re going on the internet.
  8. Know what cyber bullying is and tell someone if you think it’s happening to you. Cyber bullying is when someone picks on you, annoys, embarrasses, or threatens you over and over again using technology, such as the internet or a phone.
  9. Protect your digital footprint: don’t put anything online that you wouldn’t want all your friends, family, teachers and future employers to see.
  10. Treat others online the way you’d like to be treated.

Find more great information about internet safety on the government website, Cybersmart.

Here is a great video with tips for students from CommonSenseMedia. I found it via Jenny Luca’s wonderful post on digital footprints.

What other internet safety tips would you add?

How do you teach internet safety in your classroom?

I plan to write about tips for teachers and parents in my next posts.

Kids and Online Tools: The Legal Side

There are so many free online tools out there that are fabulous to use in the classroom. These tools can potentially allow your students to create, collaborate, communicate and express themselves in a multitude of ways.

To find recommendations of tried and tested online tools to use in the classroom with step-by-step instructions, visit my other website Tech Tools for Teachers. 

While the legal stuff can seem boring, it’s important to be aware that children cannot sign up for many online tools, even many of those that seem designed for education.

Websites based in the US are required to comply with Federal Trade Commission ( FTC ) Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).  This act restricts the collecting information from children under the age of thirteen.

If you look in the terms and conditions of many tools, you will find that children under 13 are not allowed to create an account.

Some tools, such as PhotoPeach, state that “Persons under 13 years of age are required to have a parent or guardian review and complete the registration process.”

According to this article, there is currently a proposal in place to broaden the limitations in the COPPA act.

Australia has similar rules to COPPA and if you are working in a Victorian DEECD school, the same rules about signing up for 13+ websites apply. Find out more about DEECD’s social media policies here.

Ways I have gotten around these limitations with under 13s

  • Create a teacher account and work with the children.
  • Have students sign up at home with their parents when the tools allows this (eg. PhotoPeach).
  • Use tools that don’t require a sign up (eg. Tagxedo).
  • Use tools that allow teachers to create student accounts (eg. Storybird).

What this means for you

  • Be mindful that if an online tool requires users to sign up then there is probably a 13+ rule in place.
  • Check out the “terms and conditions” on the website to be sure. These can usually be found right down the bottom or up the top of a website.

I am certainly no expert on this topic. Please leave a comment if you have any further knowledge or advice.

What other tools have you used that don’t require sign up or allow the creation of student accounts?