I had the pleasure of meeting and talking with my son’s grade four class the other day about Internet Safety, Online Privacy and responsible/fun internet use at home. The topic can get big and ugly and has the potential to be a “Scare Attack” / “Shields Up” situation where parents shut down and don’t want to deal with things because it’s just too big or they just don’t understand and are overwhelmed. I thought I’d share some things that helped make it successful.
Fear Not – I am here to help. Let me point you to resources YOU can use to inform yourself on what kids are doing, what you can do to open a dialogue with them and what you can do to help them learn to be safe on the internet. Check out the various Hyperlinks throughout this post.
First off – My employer (Microsoft Canada) is a founding member of “Be Web Aware” along with Bell Canada and the Media Awareness Network. It is a national, bilingual public education program on Internet Safety. FREE RESOURCES that you can use as a parent, an educator or as a kid to learn about how to be safe online. You can get all sorts of info from here as well as the Media Awareness Network (including pre-made presentations in French and English.
Secondly – as with any kind of a discussion or presentation – tailor it to your audience and make it relevant. Mine was to a class of 9 and 10 year olds. They are already using the internet and have already started using email / online chats and messenger programs. As a result – I focused on topics about sharing information, usage guidelines, working with parents to establish lines of communication with questions and answers. I also found the content I was working with had way to many justification slides with stats and percentages – Kids don’t care – they want it simplified, not statistical. Keep the stats for the parents.
Third – I kept it interactive and full of questions and answers as well as mini-quiz times to validate points. Lots of examples that were in their own words and level of language. If I started to see them wrestling around – I knew it was time to move on and re-engage.
Fourth – Had them think about their parents in their shoes a lot. What did we do for fun when we were kids. What did we do and how it really wasn’t any different then what they do – just different tools / toys – that’s all. Ultimately – not much has changed – We like to play with friends, connect and communicate with them (we used telephones or face to face) and have fun / amuse ourselves.
Fifth – wrapping up within the 40 minute interactive session to leave time for more questions / statements about what they saw. Summary message was working together with parents to find happy medium to allow the kids to use / explore the internet while at the same time staying safe and keeping parents informed instead of left in the dark. I encouraged them all to share what they learned with their parents as well as their other friends who weren’t in the class.
I plan on putting on a bigger 90 minute presentation / Q&A talk in the fall timeframe for more then just the single school. I’m going to approach all of them in the neighbourhood and use a larger venue for an early evening talk for parents and kids to attend.