With constant access to technology, it can be difficult to monitor whether or not students are acting appropriately and responsibly on the Internet. When online, some do not understand the repercussions of their actions and may behave in ways that could put themselves or others in danger. While content filters can make it easier to oversee the activity on school computers, there are often ways around these programs. Some students, however, do know how to properly act online. Look out for these signs of responsible Internet usage:

Setting time limits. Although many teenagers are constantly on their phones, being able to put down technology is a sign that one can practice self control and prioritize when need be. Being consumed by the Internet is a bad sign that something more may be going on.

Respectful of other’s materials. Many school computers have shared files that are accessed by multiple students. Someone who invades the privacy of others and goes through their materials may not be very respectful online.

Immediately reporting something inappropriate. Occasionally content filters do fail, and unsuitable content may appear after a harmless search. In this case, the students that are honest and report this material are proving themselves responsible with what they are viewing.

Asking permission. The Internet is for everyone, but asking permission before using school computers shows a respect for the property of others and authority.

The browser history is in tact after each use. When a student clears the browser history after they use a computer, it usually means they have something to hide. If this is consistently happening, then monitoring the computer as a student is online might be the best option.

Proper and polite language. The way a student speaks to others is a fairly adequate indicator of how they will speak to others online. If a student is known for bullying others, this sort of behavior is easier to emulate in chat rooms and over emails because it does not require face-to-face confrontation.

It can be difficult to tell if a student is acting responsibly online. The repercussions of posting an inappropriate photograph, cyberbullying or giving out personal information have lasting effects that students do not always understand. To avoid wasting time micromanaging search histories, take some time to discuss safe Internet usage and be vigilant of behaviors around technology and others.

Laura Jane Crocker