The connected world – 

Well what an introduction into these modules. The online stimulation of a typical social media account for a younger teenage girl was a real eye opener but also brought back some of my past memories. Small problems that were escalating quickly, bitchiness and misunderstandings are just a general afternoons work for these young adolescents via social media. I remember being in high school and being around that age and communicating on social media and all these things were such big deals and the problems that were often ignited by social media felt like such huge problems in the real world when they had no reason to.

It was interesting to see the key capabilities that were identified to be an effective cyber citizen – Digital media literacy, positive online behaviour, peer and personal safety and e-security. In that list based on the stimulation that I completed I would not say that any of those students are effective cyber citizens as they did not display positive online behaviour and there was no peer or personal safety. In each of the scenarios on the other hand that were given at the end of the module each student displayed successful cyber citizenship, although the actual chances of this occurring in all situations in real life is questionable.

Cyber safety and your students – 

Cyber safety is probably both educators and parents most concerning issue when it comes to young adults beginning to venture out into cyberspace and in particular using social media sites. I believe that one way to help students in staying safe online is by educating them on what the potential problems could be in the cyber community. Some of the most common issues that are identified are – cyber bullying, sexting, grooming, identity theft, viruses, stalking and hacking.

A great strategy to help identify cyber bullying is to ensure that you encourage students to befriend their family members as well as family friends or older friends. This is a good strategy as it allows people that are older and more mature to observe the activity that is occurring on their social media page and ensure that their is no unusual or bullying activity occurring. If there is safety concerns this can be handled faster than if they are unknown by those around the student.

Schools and the law – 

There are some roles that are mentioned that schools should be taking up. Schools should create a cyber safety policy through the leadership team and ensure that is adopted throughout the whole school. It needs to be ensured that both educators and students understand cyber safety policies so that they can adhere to them. Parents support is also of utmost importance as this is an issue that has the potential to occur both within the school environment and the home environment. Schools should provide parents and student information sessions and incorporate cyber safety elements into the curriculum.

An interesting point was made within this module and that was “A school and its teachers could be liable, if the cyberbullying is by SMS, email or telephone by other pupils from school—even if the bullying took place at home.[2] It might be said that because schools are in a position to attempt to control or prevent ongoing bullying then they have a duty of care to do so”. I found this quite interesting as who would have thought that teachers could be liable if this is occurring at home and not within the school – realistically how is this the teachers liability if it is not occurring during the school day whilst they are the students duty of care personal? Kind of a scary prospect if you ask me!!

Some great strategies that were suggested include:

  • Electronic bully box
  • Cyber safety week
  • Police guest speaker
  • Student run information nights for parents
  • Technology audits for staff
  • PD opportunities for staff
  • Cyber safety contact person for both staff and students

Putting it into practice:

My cyber safety education plan at the moment:

The aim of this plan is to ensure students have all the knowledge available to them to be effective and safe cyber citizens. The cyber safety capabilities that will be explored are positive online behaviours, peer and personal safety and e-security. I want to ensure all students have a in depth knowledge about the most common issues that they will potentially come across on the internet and strategies that they can put in place to overcome these. I want students to be able to openly talk about programs they use on the internet and any problems they have already come across. Students will create an action chart where they will identify appropriate path ways to solve any issues that they may come across. All teaching of cyber safety will begin with group learning and then move onto self paced individual learning with students working through selected materials. Teaching resources will be gathered from the cybersmart website in the lower primary section. Two of the web based teaching resources that will be used are Zippep’s astro circus and Hector’s world.

Cyber safety certificate