With the ease and convenience of communicating in a digital world, also comes the responsibility to teach children how to do so safely.
Even a kindergartner, who can oftentimes already navigate a smart phone or tablet, can benefit from having an awareness of the complexities of the online world and an appreciation for its real-life hazards.
Ultimately you want children to 1) understand the risks involved in being online and 2) feel safe in asking for help should a concern arise.
Although the risks of being online change as students get older, there are several concepts that can be introduced as early as kindergarten and built upon thereafter. Heath World recommends that k-3rd grade children understand the following:
Information online isn’t always private
How to protect personal information
How to identify and respond to cyberbullying
Messages and video on the internet last forever
What to do if they receive a message that makes them uncomfortable
This last point is of special interest to experts in the field of cyber security. Oftentimes, victims or offenders don’t feel safe going to their parents to ask for help for fear of punishment. A failure to ask for help can escalate a problem that may have been minimized by adult intervention. Therefore, adults should reassure children that when a problem arises their priority is to help fix the problem, whether the child is a victim or offender. When necessary, problem solving should be met with grace and support followed by the application of predetermined consequences.
Kindergarten is not too early to get kids thinking about internet safety! Our ‘Safety Smart Online!’ course, available free of charge thanks to the support of UL, delivers instruction on each of the above topics. Combine this program with establishing open communication and approachability with your children or students, and you have laid the groundwork for a safe internet experience!