How to Teach Internet Safety to Younger Elementary Students
My previous piece, “Teaching Digital Citizenship in the Elementary Classroom,” was published several years ago, and I’d like to give a sample lesson for teaching online safety to students as young as kindergarten. Kindergarten, yes, you read that correctly.
Because children are spending more and more time online at an increasingly young age, it is critical that we explicitly teach young children how to protect themselves online. The majority of young children are taught about “stranger danger” at school, and they are familiar with how to deal with strangers in their area and face-to-face circumstances.
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To discuss internet safety with young students, there are three things to keep in mind. First and foremost, the transfer of knowledge about how to deal with strangers in real life to strangers in virtual worlds does not happen automatically or without effort. It is necessary to educate people. Second, while most stranger danger programs teach that strangers are dangerous and cruel and that they seek to hurt or abduct children, this is in direct opposition to how strangers collaborate online. The majority of strangers are not hazardous. Students can walk or run away from a potential threat in real life, and this is something they should practice. In an online environment, the danger is contained within a student’s own home, and it is difficult for them to flee if they do not possess the required abilities for dealing with difficult situations.
PROTECTING PRIVATE INFORMATION ONLINE
Here’s an example of a lesson I taught to my kindergarten and first-grade kids to introduce the concept of strangers on the internet and discuss how we should interact with them. This activity will necessitate the use of a computer and internet connectivity, as well as the use of a projector or interactive whiteboard so that these questions can be projected on the screen throughout the discussion. Ask the following questions to your students:
“Can you tell me what a stranger is?
Ensure that pupils comprehend that a stranger is someone we do not know after soliciting a variety of responses. Students should be reminded that while some strangers may wish to cause them harm, not all strangers are nasty individuals. Some instances are a stranger who opens the door for you or who picks up something that you have dropped and returns it to you, among others.
“What kinds of things should we avoid sharing with a stranger?”
” Inquire for a variety of responses, making certain that terms such as “address,” “phone number,” and “complete name” are given.
“Can you tell me what kinds of things are appropriate to tell a stranger?”
” This is a question that students typically find more difficult to answer. You may receive responses such as “Hi” or “How are you? “If students are stumped, have them vote with their thumbs on various topics such as “your favorite color” or “your favorite ice cream flavor.” Explain that certain types of information will not put them in danger by voting in this manner.
“Do strangers exist on the internet?
” Some students may have already participated in online games and may be able to respond based on their previous experiences. I’ve had pupils as young as kindergarten tell me that they believe there are strangers on the internet because you never know who you’re talking to until you start a conversation. Show the students a video on how to deal with strangers online after a quick discussion of different ways we might engage with strangers online (which can include game systems).
Students should watch the Internet Safety video available at BrainPOP Jr. After the movie, ask them to discuss what they took away from it with you. Following the solicitation of responses, study vocabulary from the video by participating in the Word Play exercise on the website. Afterward, instruct them to complete the Write About It task.