By: Michael Land, EdD
A nursery worker admitted raping a toddler in his care and luring more than
20 teenage girls into sexual traps on the Internet using a web of false identities.
The 20-year-old pedophile also built up a personal library of hundreds of
photographs and videos of teenage girls in sexual poses whom he met through
chat rooms and social networking sites.
The role of a school is to facilitate learning. Creating a learning environment requires
the organization of faculty, staff, students, infrastructure, materials, and growing concerns
of safety. An area of growing concern in school safety is the aspect of cyber
safety. The education environment has become infused with technology. Students
have access to technology in both instructional and personal environments that should
be utilized in a safe and responsible manner. Increasingly, it is left to schools to assure
students function, mindful of safety and responsibly, in a cyber-safe environment.
Providing a cyber-safe environment for schools and students is a broad topic.
Educational environments have many areas to consider in facilitating a cyber-safe
environment. Schools have administrative technology systems to retain everything
from payroll information to student grades. They have instructional platforms, used
by the teachers in the classrooms, and challengingly, schools have a role in facilitating
a safe cyber environment in light of faculty, staff, and students’ personally
owned technology. The role of cyber safety extends from the school’s network to the
far-reaching networks of the Internet.
Computers and cyber technologies enhance student performance by engaging,
involving, and empowering students. Cyber resources foster the development of
skills, helping to ensure mastery of educational content and student use of technology
every day. Schools without technology are practically nonexistent.
Today students are exposed to technology throughout their life. Both primary
and secondary schools provide students basic technology literacy skills to reinforce
higher-order thinking skills such as problem solving, synthesis, and analysis
of information. Schools and educators incorporate a considerable amount of
technology to make sure instructional resources are an enhancing experience for
students. Many teachers embrace and master technology to support teaching methods
and curricular goals, and they expect students to utilize that technology in a
A large measure of student proficiency assumes that the student will use cyber
resources in a secure, safe, and ethical manner. Cyber safety is part of the life skills
students must possess. However, in most cases, the students are going to have had
little formal direction in how to be safe and ethically sound in the cyber environment
outside of the classroom. Increasingly it has become the school’s role to ensure a safe
cyber environment both in and out of the classroom (Gibbs, 2010).
Very few educators teach students about online safety, security, and ethics as
part of the learning process. A recent study shows that only 15% of educators taught
students about hate speech, and only 18% provided any instruction regarding how
to deal with negative posts, videos, or other Web content. Just 26% taught kids how
to handle incidents of cyberbullying. One-third of teachers covered risks with social
networking, and another third taught students about safely sharing information on
the Internet. However, only 6% taught students about the safe use of geolocation
services despite the rise of its use in Web-enabled mobile devices (National Cyber
Security Alliance, 2011).
The diffusion of Web 2.0 technologies and smartphones provide another interesting
dimension to cyber safety. Students, as well as faculty and staff, have the ability
to access, communicate, and process data via a robust network platform that they can
hold in their hands or store in their pockets. Web 2.0 has made the Internet an instantaneous,
participatory, interactive community differing from the initial incarnation
of the Web as an environment where you could gather (or post) information and
communicate via asynchronous systems. Smartphones, utilizing mobile computer
operating systems, provide the user the ability to interact via Web 2.0 applications
synchronously. Web 2.0, combined with smartphones, has provided advanced computing
and communication tools to its users and an additional challenge to maintain
a cyber-safe environment in schools.
In addressing the assurance of a cyber-safe environment, the fi rst section of this
chapter will be viewed from three cyber environments: the Internet, social networking,
and smartphones each contain their own purpose, attributes, signifi cance, value,
and subsequent risks. The second section of this chapter focuses on creating a cyber-
safe environment by implementing measures to cultivate secure, safe, and ethical
It is not the intent of this chapter to provide technical instructions for developing
a cyber-safe environment in schools. Aspects such as firewalls, malicious code,
and access controls need to be addressed by network administrators who can configure
those protection systems properly. However, it is proposed that this chapter
enlighten educators with a knowledge base that will allow them to understand the
various factors that construct the school’s cyber environment, so they can articulate
an approach reducing a school’s cyber risks. Minimizing cyber risks in schools can
be best addressed by making educators aware of their role in the process. Because
of schools’ and educators’ place in the lives of children, it is imperative that cyber
safety be a portion of the educational process.
The Internet is a world-wide public computer network. The Internet was originally
founded by the Department of Defense in the 1970s using transmission control protocol/
Internet protocol to connect computers and networks. Since the inception of
Hyper Text Markup Language (HTML) in the early 1990s, the Internet evolved from
text-based communications platforms to graphically interfaced web pages. HTML
fueled the development of the World Wide Web into websites that would be publicly
accessible, be hosted via Internet-connected network servers, and allow for other
media files rather than mere text to be accessed.
The use of the Internet in schools grew rapidly from the inception of HTML. By
1999, nearly 100% of public schools in the United States had access to the Internet
compared with 35% four years prior. In 2005, 94% of public school instructional
rooms had Internet access compared with 3% in 1994 (Wells and Lewis, 2006). The
use of the Internet has since moved from being an instructional platform to a participatory
platform used by most students.
The Internet has become a paradox to educators. The Internet is a great
resource, full of endless amounts of information and resources. Use of e-mail,
chatting, and browsing (for educational research and personal use) via the Internet
has diffused throughout the lives of students. Student Internet access exists
not only in the school. Research shows that 95% of teens have Internet access
and 82% have broadband Internet access at home (Rainie, 2011). Although the
Internet provides many positive attributes for students, some sites may contain
data to which children should not be exposed. It is easy to find sites that contain
pornographic materials, drug information, and any deviate activity imaginable.
If that is not enough, pedophiles and criminals often utilize the Internet to fi nd
their victims. The paradox is that while the Internet is an environment that is
beneficial to modern education systems, it also contains many risks and hazards
E-mail in the educational environment is frequently used by students, staff, and faculty
for sending and receiving electronic messages. E-mail allows the student to
keep in touch with teachers, family, friends, and peers. It facilitates getting help with
homework, establishing mentoring relationships, receiving online newsletters, and
general communication in an asynchronous format.
Potential risk with e-mail is an inherent quality of the Internet. It utilizes a
public network architecture where you can communicate with other e-mail users
indiscriminately. There is no required validation that users are who they say.
Furthermore, e-mail users can communicate with others through unsolicited messages.
These unsolicited messages, or spam, can variably include sexually explicit
material, products for sale, or moneymaking schemes or serve as a host for a malicious
Another facet of e-mail involves a substantial movement by school systems to
use cloud-based e-mail systems. Cloud-based services allow students, faculty, and
staff to access applications on a network platform that is leased or rented to schools
similar to a utility or tenement arrangement. The cloud extends the system so that
students, faculty, and staff have constant access to not only their e-mail but also
personal files and applications software anywhere they have a computer and Internet
access. For example, an assignment using an application does not have to be installed
on the remote computer, nor does it have to be connected to a local area network to
function. The application is run from the cloud, and the data generated are stored on
the cloud, which can be accessed anytime by anyone with Internet service and proper
Both Microsoft and Google are providing schools with free e-mail for their students,
as well as online communications, applications, and storage. Many schools are
using the cloud-based networks because it has a low cost and requires only limited
personnel while providing a service to the school. There are risks associated with
the movement to cloud-based e-mail systems. Although it is easy to monitor servers
when they are run by internal data centers and are completely under the control of
the school’s information technology department, it is more difficult when you have
little control over servers that are located somewhere in the cloud. Therefore, it is
important to measure and analyze not only the performance but also the safety and
security of hosted information. It is very important that students understand this and
know how to respond to risks.
Internet browsing provides student, faculty, and staff the means to explore information
on world-wide computer networks, usually by using a browser such as Microsoft
Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, or Firefox. The browser allows access to rich
educational and cultural resources (text, sounds, pictures, and video). This also gives
users an improved ability to understand and evaluate information and stay informed
by accessing websites.
Risks associated with Internet research relate to sites with inaccurate or misleading
information. There is also access to sexually explicit images and other sites
promoting hatred, bigotry, violence, drugs, cults, and other things not appropriate
for students. The Internet in general has no restrictions on marketing products such
as alcohol and tobacco to children. Some Internet sites deceptively collect personal
information from kids in order to sell products to them or their parents via requests
for personal information for contests and surveys. The Internet is a relatively wide-
open interface to share data without any form of censorship.
Another rampant problem regarding Internet research involves plagiarism by students.
A national survey published in Education Week found that 54% of students
admitted to plagiarizing from the Internet; 74% of students admitted that at least
once during the past school year they had engaged in “serious” cheating, and 47% of
students believe their teachers sometimes choose to ignore students who are cheating
(Plagiarism Dot Org, n.d.). This is an issue that follows the primary and secondary
student into college. According to the New York Times, students raised during the
Internet age have developed an extremely lax attitude towards stealing others’ work
Online chatting is a popular communications tool used by many students. Online
chatting is reading messages from others as they are typing them, usually in a theme
or social network-specific interface. The inclusion of chatting in social networking
sites has helped to maintain its appeal as a widely used communications medium.
Chatting is popular because it allows users to communicate with people from around
the world by synchronous typing of text into a chat interface. Students can connect
to others via websites or social networking portals.
Chatting is an especially risky environment because it provides an interface
where people can communicate, in real time, with as much anonymity as they desire.
Because of its nature, chatting has become the most likely activity online through
which children will encounter people who may want to harm them (Wolak, 2008).
Predators target chat rooms to engage students in conversation and then lure them
into meeting. Social networking sites add a new dimension to chatting because of
the student’s online profile. Online profiles make searching different demographic
groups simple and easy. Predators will befriend children via social networking sites,
usually posing as another child or slightly older teen, and gain trust by behaving
as an understanding and trusted friend. Once trust is gained in the chat room, the
predator will move the conversation to a private area or in person.
Another negative aspect of chatting is that it is a place where bullies can abuse
potential victims. Bullies often start out as friends and then get students to give
their e-mail address, where the bullying can continue. Or the bullying may occur
via instant messaging or in the chat room itself. It may occur on social networking
sites attached to the chat interface, where bullies may post untrue and damaging
information (MacDonald, 2008). Chatting is sometimes used to post links to pornography.
Students may click on links and be taken to an inappropriate site. It is
easy to understand that while online, chat rooms have many risks in contract to their
The rise of Web 2.0, and most notably online social media, has had a profound
effect on students. Web 2.0 combined with broadband Internet access has changed
the way students communicate, process, and store data. Although the diffusion of
Web 2.0 has impacted users across all demographic groups, none has been as greatly
affected as students. Web 2.0 technologies include social networking sites, blogs,
wikis, video-sharing sites, hosted services, web applications, and tags. For users,
these tools, which are typically free or low cost, represent a transition from institutionally
provided to freely available technology.
Web 2.0 technologies are possible because of the adaption of programming tools,
development tools used to program interactive web applications. This programming
aspect, combined with diffusion of residential broadband Internet access, created an
environment that evolved and migrated users to a very interactive form of the World
Wide Web that facilitated interactive social networking. This AJAX-infused adaptation
of the World Wide Web is simply referred to as Web 2.0.
Web 2.0 is the current rendition of the World Wide Web that provided a “social”
approach to generating and distributing Web content, characterized by open communication,
decentralization of authority, and freedom to share and reuse information
(Acar, 2008; Madge et al., 2009; Subrahmanyam et al., 2008). The socialization
through Web 2.0 interaction is exemplified by photo and video sharing through such
web applications as Photobucket, Flicker, and YouTube, and the use of wikis and
blogs in such platforms as Wikipedia, TripAdvisor, and UrbanSpoon, as well social
networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter.
Online networking has proliferated through the Web 2.0 environment because of
an interactive design attribute that has been further propagated by increased residential
Internet access and bandwidth (Acar, 2008; Madge et al., 2009; Subrahmanyam
et al., 2008). The World Wide Web today has developed into a network of participation
that typifies online social networking. There are a variety of online social networks
in existence, the most popular being Facebook and Twitter.
Social networking sites combine common characteristics that allow profi le creation,
friends listing, and public viewing of friend lists. Online social networking
websites also allow users to create their unique web presence referred to as
their profile. Through the profile, the social network users live an online identity
while exploring friendships and relationships with other individuals who also have
profiles on that website. Online social networking does not function entirely in
real time, like conventional chat rooms and instant messaging, so the interactions
that take place are not always instantaneous, even though most have chat room
Most social networking profiles are developed from responses to questions that
request a user to disclose a variety of personal information (Steinfield et al., 2008;
Mazer et al., 2007; Mitrano, 2008). Personal information includes user names or
other identifiers such as sexual preference, schools, geographical location, and the
extent of the relationship students are currently in or seeking with others. The profi le
also allows for self-expression through personal photographs and videos. Students
can also make available their list of friends and member groups, as well as create an
area where individuals can post remarks. The individual’s social networking profi les
have distinct web addresses that can be bookmarked or linked, allowing others to
use and share that data with third parties.
The most popular online social network for students is Facebook, an online directory
that connects people through social networks. The website www.facebook.com
(Facebook) was initially designed and developed in 2004 by Mark Zuckerburg, a
Harvard University sophomore, and was inspired by a widely known paper version of
a college face book. The directory consisted of individuals’ photographs and names
and was distributed at the start of the academic. year by university administrations
with the intention of helping students get to know each other. Zuckerburg’s initial
intention was to create an online website to help Harvard co-eds get to know one
another for the purpose of finding roommates (Shier, 2005). It is no surprise that the
Facebook website has grown in popularity among students because it was initially
designed exclusively for students.
From its creation in 2004, Facebook has grown from hundreds of users to over fi ve
hundred million active users (Digital Buzz, 2011). Facebook was originally designed
for college students but is now open to anyone thirteen years of age or older. In 2006,
Facebook lifted its educational organization requisites, where users had to have an
e-mail address with an education suffix (i.e., an e-mail address ending in .edu). With
that development, there was a mass movement to Facebook as the social networking
portal of choice for most social network users (Mazer et al., 2007, 2009).
The Web 2.0 aspect of Facebook provides a tool for friends to keep in touch and
for individuals to have a presence on the Web without needing to build a website.
Facebook makes it easy to upload pictures and videos, making its use so simple that
nearly anyone can publish a multimedia profile (Mitrano, 2008). Facebook has made
it easy to find friends using e-mail address, to search by name, or to pull up listings
based on a variety of demographic variables. With a public profile on Facebook, a
student can be found by the other five hundred million users.
Each Facebook profile has a “wall,” where friends can post comments. Because
the wall is viewable by all of the student’s friends, wall postings are basically a public
conversation. By default, students can write personal messages on friends’ walls
or send a person a private message that will show up in their private inbox similar to
an e-mail message. Facebook offers tools to develop and maintain relationships that
are of particular importance in emerging adulthood. Recently the use of messaging
via online social networking has surpassed e-mails as the primary means of communication
Facebook allows each user to set privacy settings. For example, students can
have their privacy levels set so that not all other users will be able to view their
profile; that is, a student’s profile may only be viewed by someone the student has
added as a friend. A student can adjust the privacy settings to allow other users or
peers to view portions or all of the profile. Users can also create a limited profi le,
which allows them to hide certain parts of the profile from a list of users that an
Another feature of Facebook that students like is the ability to add gaming applications
to a user page. Facebook applications are programs developed specifi cally
for Facebook profiles. The most popular of these programs include interactive games
such as Farm Town, Mafia Wars, and thousands of other interactive multiuser applications.
Because most game applications save scores or assets, friends can compete
against each other or against millions of other Facebook users.
Many social networking sites require that users are at least thirteen years old.
This includes popular sites like Facebook and YouTube, all of whom ask users to
confirm that they meet this age requirement when setting up an account. In addition,
other websites that contain adult-oriented material such as alcohol-related advertising
or sexually explicit material may require the user to be at least eighteen or
twenty-one years of age.
Requiring users to be of age does not seem to be a deterrent in social networking
access. A recent study (Lenhart et al., 2011a) shows many online teens (44%) admit
to lying about their age so they could access a website. Boys and girls are equally
likely to say they were older to gain access to a website or service. The youngest
group, ages twelve and thirteen, are more likely than seventeen-year-olds to say they
have lied about their age (49% versus 30%). Teens who maintain public profi les on
social network sites are far more likely than those who have private profiles to report
lying about their age (62% versus 45%) (Lenhart et al., 2011a).
Another problem with online social networks relates to the occasional cruel
behavior between students. Teenagers who use social networking sites say their peers
are mostly kind to one another on such sites (69%). Still, 88% of these teens say they
have witnessed people being mean or cruel to another person on the sites, and 15%
report that they have been the target of mean or cruel behavior on social network
sites. Among the 15% of social media-using teens who have experienced cruelty or
mean behavior on social network sites, there are no statistically signifi cant variances
by age, gender, race, socioeconomic status, or any other demographic characteristic
measured (Lenhart et al., 2011b).
Providing a cyber-safe environment in schools is ever challenging not only
because of the dangers inherent in the Internet and social networking but the added
dimension of students bringing their personal technology into the educational environment,
which can access a host of technological resources. Students are increasingly
utilizing their personal technology, most notably smartphones, to access social
It has become commonplace for students to have a smartphone by the time they
reach high school. The use of smartphones exceeds the use of traditional computers
in accessing the Internet (Weintraub, 2011; Albanesius, 2011). A smartphone is a
cellular phone that combines the functions of a networked computing system and a
mobile phone. The smartphone hosts a wealth of technology and applications (apps)
that are as robust as a PC in many situations. In addition to the standard audio and
text capabilities, smartphones typically serve as video/still cameras, audio recorders,
media players, and mobile computers. They incorporate apps and browsers that can
do a number of things ranging from video conferencing, global positioning system
navigation, and social networking via wi-fi and broadband Internet protocol network
Research shows that teenagers are much more likely to own a smartphone than
adults and are more obsessed with the technology. Forty-eight percent of teenagers
own a smartphone compared with just 27% of adults. Of those who own smartphones,
A growing issue with cyber life and smartphone usage relates to geolocation tools
such as Facebook Places. These services have become very popular apps, especially
in the social networking environment. The apps allow users to “check-in” to locations
(neighborhood businesses) via their mobile phone. Their location is then sent to
their friends and in many cases includes a map showing their exact location.
Geolocating is used primarily as a marketing tool for businesses, giving reduced
cost or free merchandise for app users who visit their store. However, there are
some obvious safety considerations. Every time someone checks into a location
publicly, they are telling the world exactly where they are at that point in time.
Location sharing could encourage stalking, as well a host of other hazardous issues
because the user is broadcasting their physical location via the Internet or social
Texting also needs to be considered when looking at smartphones and cyber
safety. Technically, texting is not a Web-based technology. However, it has become
widely diffused and has become synonymous with modern youth in the proliferation
of cell phone technology. In a 2004 survey of teens, 18% of twelve-year-olds owned
a cell phone. In 2009, 58% of twelve-year-olds owned a cell phone, whereas 83% of
teens aged seventeen owned a cell phone, up from 64% in 2004 (Goldberg, 2010).
Text messaging has become the preferred method of communication for American
teenagers, with one in three teens sending more than one hundred texts a day
(Goldberg, 2010). Texting, however, like other cyber technologies with many positive
benefits for students, can also create problems. Fifteen percent of cell phone-owning
teens say they have received sexual images or nearly nude images of someone they
know via text messaging. Older teens are much more likely to send and receive these
images; 8% of seventeen-year-olds with cell phones have sent a sexually provocative
image by text, and 30% have received a nude or nearly nude image on their phone
(sexts). Teens who pay their own phone bills are more likely to send “sexts”: 17% of
teens who pay for all of the costs associated with their cell phones send sexually suggestive
images via text (Ngo, 2009).
Wolford (2011) linked sexting to serious psychological problems in a sample of
twenty-three thousand students in the Boston area, finding that “sexting can include
overtones of bullying and coercion, and teens who are involved were more likely to
report being psychologically distressed, depressed or even suicidal.” In fact, twice
as many teens who reported sexting had depressive symptoms compared with teens
who said they did not sext. Thirteen percent of sexting teens reported a suicide
attempt in the last year compared with only 3% of nonsexting students. Not only
is sexting a problem, but it has a relationship as a variable in other factors of safety
concerns for students.
This section has attempted to provide an understanding of cyber use by students
with both positive attributes and consequent risk. Providing a technology-safe environment
is a very broad topic and includes many aspects of student life. It is also
obvious that technology will continue to play a large part in the educational environment
and in the lives of students. Therefore, educators should understand the potential
role schools can have in facilitating a safe cyber environment.
PROVIDING A SAFE CYBER ENVIRONMENT
The second part of this chapter addresses the role of educators in providing a cyber-
safe environment for students. Providing cyber safety is contingent upon educators
understanding the environment, risks, and vulnerabilities of technology. Because of
the breadth of the issues and complexity of the environment, there is no more valid
approach to achieving a safe cyber environment in schools than to teach it to students
throughout their education. This approach will use the educator to do what they
do best in promoting secure, safe, and ethically sound practices by students. Cyber
safety is a life skill that students must possess.
It is not the intent of this section to address cyber safety from the view of a
network administrator but to make the educator aware of what is needed to make
schools’ cyber environments safe. A school must have both policies and procedures
to provide for authentication, firewalls, and virus protection on its computer systems.
Authentication will provide secure login and allow individuals to access only the
data and applications they require. The firewall also serves as an access control
device that will limit user access to unwanted programs and data. Virus protection
programs will protect users from viruses and malware on the network. Each of these
three areas must be addressed by computing professionals in that environment. The
best application for the educator is to teach students the risks associated with the
cyber environment and subsequently how to make themselves safe, secure, and ethical
The task of cyber safety is daunting because there are so many aspects of a student’s
cyber life that are out of reach of the educator. Students have technology,
and they use it very frequently outside the realm of mentorship. They use technology
to communicate peer-to-peer and often without knowledge, concern, or ethical
understanding. Therefore, a curriculum infused with cyber security, safety, and ethics
is important to provide students with the ability to make good cyber decisions.
Teaching students to be good cyber citizens will better ensure they do not become
cyber crime victims in the future. Because technology is diffused at all learning
levels, cyber safety should be included throughout the curriculum beginning in kindergarten
and extending until the student completes high school.
Basic principles should be stressed throughout their education. An example is to
visit only age-appropriate sites. Students under the age of thirteen should not have
a Facebook account. Stress to students to search the Internet safely. Even though a
school can have a fi rewall and apply fi ltering software, inappropriate materials can
still come through.
One basic principle of cyber safety is that students should always be taught to
avoid strangers in the cyber world. Students must understand that people are not
always who they say they are in cyberspace. If someone the student does not know
talks to them, they should not respond, and they should make school staff aware.
Another basic principle students should understand is that simply because they can
access something on the Internet and copy it or download it, that does not make it
theirs. Be it audio, video, or someone else’s words, it may be acceptable to use them,
but they still belong to the owner and that person deserves to be compensated even
if it is merely with a citation and bibliography entry. Students must understand this
concept of cyber citizenship. At any level of technological interface, students should
be taught to be a good cyber citizen. An underlying premise is that if students would
not do something in real life, they should not do it online.
CYBER SAFETY IN THE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
As technology is introduced to students, so should cyber safety education. In kindergarten,
students often learn that technology offers the ability to visit new places,
learn new things, and collaborate with others worldwide. Even at this young age,
students need to learn rules about being safe online, such as not revealing private
information. They need to know the value of information and why it should be protected.
Students need to know, even at the youngest age, that computers and technology
are not “safe,” and there are people who will take advantage of them in those
Students even at this age are enthusiastic about their technology (Saçkes, 2011).
Educators should connect with that enthusiasm and relate it to being cyber safe.
Encourage discussions regarding the positive and negative aspects of cyber life and
cyber citizenship. In a world in which everyone is connected and anything created
can be copied, pasted, and sent to millions of people, it is important that students
bring a sense of ethical responsibility to cyber environments.
Students are never too young to learn how to manage their own privacy and
respect the privacy of others. Students should understand the ethics of participating
in and building positive online communities, as well as how cyber communities
are challenged because of stalking, bullying, and other negative behaviors.
Students need to understand that their role as a good citizen also extends to the
broader communities. It may sound facetious, but it is never too early to promote
the respect of creative work, as well as copyright to fair use. Students should
understand the ethics of using creative work from others as they are encouraged to
practice their own creativity.
CYBER SAFETY IN MIDDLE SCHOOL
As students progress through school they become more engaged in cyber life.
Students continually need to understand the significance of communicating online
and proper etiquette. As middle school students, they must learn approaches for
managing their information online to keep it secure. Students should know how to
guard against identity theft and keep their data safe from malware while protecting
themselves from e-mail phishing. This may sound complex, but these are issues
middle school students are confronting daily, and they need to know how to deal
with these situations.
Adults may think of students’ online and technological activities as cyber life but
to them it is just life. Technology has always been a part of their existence, and they
are enthusiastic about it. Educators should harness this enthusiasm and encourage
students to talk about the impact of technology on their lives, their communities,
and culture. Students should learn about the positive and negative aspects of cyber
life and the concept of cyber citizenship. It is important that students bring a sense
of ethical responsibility to the online spaces where they consume, create, and share
information. Being cyber safe is a life skill that students must understand and apply.
Students need to continually learn to manage their own privacy and respect the
privacy of others. Students in middle school should explore the ethics of participating
in and building positive online communities, as well as understanding how
communities are upset because of cyber stalking, harassment, bullying, and other
damaging behaviors. Educators should explore the impact of students’ individual
actions, both negative and positive, on their friends and on the broader communities
in which they participate. A middle school student needs to know that what they do
in the cyber world can impact their physical life. It is imperative that they understand
that their candor with technology can have effects far past the comfort of their private
physical space. Students must know that the way they present themselves online
can affect their relationships, sense of self, and reputations. Also, the way a student
treats others in the cyber world can have repercussions in the physical world.
Students at the middle school level should be encouraged to introduce positive
behavior in the cyber world by creating and publishing their own writing, music,
videos, and artwork. They also should understand issues related to copyright and
public domain cyber resources. This includes knowledge of cyber resource and
how you can use them. The ability to access and use data is a life skill they must
process. Subject matter may involve activities from citation of a newspaper article
for school research to distribution of copyrighted music via peer networks.
Students need to know what is acceptable behavior and what is not (Conradson and
CYBER SAFETY IN HIGH SCHOOL
In high school, students know and appreciate the value of connecting with others
online. They recognize inappropriate contact and know how to respond to it. They
learn why certain online relationships are risky and to avoid them. Students develop
processes for managing their personal data in cyber environments.
High school students will be fully exposed to the concept of cyber citizenship and
consider how they can harness the power of cyber life for good. Students continually
learn to manage their own privacy and respect the privacy of others. High school
students understand how information they post online can affect getting into college
or other future opportunities, as well as how it might impact others.
High school students must understand the power of anonymity in the cyber world.
They must consider how anonymity and public posting can intensify bullying, hate
speech, and abusive relationships online and how to deal with it if it happens to them.
High school students learn to think critically about how they present themselves
online as they do in the physical life. Students must consider what their profi les,
posts, and avatars convey to others about them and reflect on whether this image is
who they want to portray. At the high school level, students should be profi cient in
using citation and bibliographies for Internet-based research. High school students
understand that duplicating copyrighted music or video is illegal. The student must
understand the value of copyrights and licensing of data as they are encouraged to
consider their own opportunities for creating and using new media.
Making students into good cyber citizens is a goal for all educational levels.
Computers and cyber technologies enhance student performance by engaging, involving,
and empowering students, and addressing cyber safety as a part of the curriculum
is essential. Moreover, it is the responsibility of primary and secondary schools to
provide their students basic cyber security, safety, and ethical skills as a portion of
the educational process. Schools must educate students regarding an acceptable use
policy and make clear the consequences for violating it. Schools must also instill a
sense of cyber responsibility. The role of a school in facilitating learning is going to
be even more challenging in the future. The best time to begin establishing a culture
of cyber safety in school is the first day you introduce your students to technology.
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