Living in a digital age, we may assume that everyone is aware of the dangers of the technology. However, technology is constantly evolving. Therefore, school administrators must stay aware of changes in technology. That way, administrators can work with teachers and parents to protect students.
One way to raise awareness about digital safety is by hosting a parent night when school begins. At the meeting, administrators should tell parents what kinds of technology their children will use. This is also a great opportunity to discuss school software that keeps students safe. That includes content filters and computer word and phrase monitoring. By hosting this meeting, parents will know what their children are doing online at school. They’ll also know what the school is doing to keep their children safe.
Additionally, this meeting can create trust between teachers and parents. Teachers can explain their rules about smartphones, laptops and other devices in their classrooms. Some schools allow teachers to each have their own rules about personal devices. In this case, parents can travel from classroom to classroom. This gives them a forum for asking questions to make sure they understand the policy. It also helps teachers gain parents’ trust.
Once parents understand the importance of digital safety, administrators can ask them for help. Administrators and teachers can help parents find ways to begin an open dialogue with their children about digital safety. This reinforces what children learn at school. It also reinforces school rules, as parents can remind children that there are serious consequences for inappropriate technology use.
By holding events throughout the year, schools can remind parents and students of the importance of digital safety. For instance, the Connecting Families program offer free take-home materials and lesson plans about digital safety.. Endorsed by the National Parent Teacher Association, the program also helps students become involved by encouraging the PTA to host “Teen Panels.”
Homeroom and advisory periods offer the perfect time to talk about online behavior. At the beginning of the year, students can sign a pledge to maintain good digital citizenship throughout the year. Role-playing activities and short writing exercises can reinforce these ideas.
Additionally, schools can hire specialists to inform students about digital dangers such as cyberbullying, sexting and cyberstalking. Sometimes, schools personalize these lectures by having a local law enforcement officer or even the district attorney inform students of how to be safe while using technology.
Education is a collaborative enterprise. This extends to online education as well. In order to teach students about digital safety and citizenship, administrators, teacher and parents need to work together. In this way, schools can better protect students from danger — and better prepare them for their futures.
Text by Melissa Lawrence