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County schools learn internet safety [Greensburg Daily News, Ind. :: ]
[March 08, 2014]

County schools learn internet safety [Greensburg Daily News, Ind. :: ]

(Greensburg Daily News (IN) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) March 08--GREENSBURG -- In late February, the Daily News printed an article about North Decatur Elementary School (NDES) students learning internet safety from school counselor Candy Scaggs.

The information in that article came from general course materials and not from direct conversation with or observation of Scaggs. The Daily News spoke with the school counselor to learn exactly what was taught to each grade level.

Scaggs said the internet safety lessons took place throughout the month of February, teaching age-appropriate safety to each grade level at both North and South Decatur Elementary Schools. Scaggs said the school district wanted students informed about ways to protect themselves, in large part because of the 1 to 1 iPad Initiative.

"For a lot of kids, this is the first time they are exposed to being online," Scaggs said.

Kindergarten students learned how to care for their iPads. Lessons covered basic tips on "how to make their iPad happy" by hugging it and not spilling anything on the device. Scaggs said the kindergarten students are not using the internet yet, so they mainly needed to learn how to take care of their iPads.

First grade students learned not to share their password or personal information, such as names, addresses, phone numbers and other secure information. Students also answered questions to show their knowledge on how to care for their devices.

Second grade students were taught not to share their passwords or personal information as well. Students learned the different things that qualify as personal information. Scaggs said the lessons may evolve next year to cover more information, though she wasn't sure they would change much, as each is tailored to teach age-appropriate information.

As students age, their lessons get more in-depth and cover more information. As the students' experience with internet-connected devices grows, the knowledge of what they can and can't do, as well as what they should and shouldn't avoid will grow too. The lessons don't just protect them at school, but help them make good internet choices at home, according to Scaggs.

Third grade students learned not to share personal information online, as well as learning about sharing photos carefully and playing online games at home (school devices are not meant for games). Popups and scams were covered as well, teaching children that others can steal personal information through many avenues, even those as simple as a single mouse click. Third graders learned that there is good as well as bad on the internet and they must make good choices.

Fourth grade students learned several internet vocabulary words, like cookies, spam and blog. In addition to keeping personal information private, fourth graders learned what plagiarism was and why they can't do it. Children also learned how to use sources from the internet as opposed to taking credit for another's writing. Students were warned of the dangers of sharing pictures online too. For example, when sharing a photo in a school shirt or uniform, anyone viewing that picture would know where the child went to school.

Fifth grade students learned using metaphors for internet safety, like, "Why is a toothbrush like the internet?" Students provided answers, proving their understanding of the subject. Most fifth graders have already been introduced to the internet so they are familiar with some of the basic safety lessons. Students are repeatedly taught that once something is on the internet, it is there forever. Someone else could take a photo and share it or alter it and put it online again, which could result in many problems for the student.

Sixth grade students' lessons focused heavily on the permanence of things posted online. Things can't be taken down. Ill-advised photos taken and posted during childhood and teenage years could have long-lasting or even permanent effects. For example, many colleges and employers now check prospects' Facebook pages and something unfavorable there could prevent one from getting a job or scholarship or even getting into their chosen college.

"Once it's there, it's there," Scaggs told students.

She frequently warned students to be careful what they post, as well as to be aware of the content of photos and videos. If they have something identifiable on their clothing or in the background, a stranger could potentially discover where they live or go to school.

"We talked a lot more about photographs that are out there and videos, because we're talking about kids with Facebook accounts. We talk about pictures and what they could find out with the pictures," Scaggs said.

Cyberbullying was addressed in Scaggs' lesson, focusing on the fact that children can't see the victim and have no idea how the bullied person is going to react to the abuse. Students are always taught that bullying is an unacceptable behavior.

Students were told they have no way to know if the person they are talking to is who they say they are. Mandy people on the internet lie and some of them lie with the intention of hurting others. Children were also told to tell an adult if someone online attempts to get their personal information. Variations on this lesson were given to each grade, at levels appropriate to their age. For example, third graders were taught that strangers on the internet could be a lot like the wolf in Red Riding Hood dressing up like the title character's grandmother.

Scaggs said she believes the students understood the information presented relatively well, though she professed her concern about the older students truly realizing that anything posted is going to be there forever. She did, however, say she was confident that students were aware of the danger of sharing personal information. Scaggs will repeat the internet safety lessons next year in order to keep the information fresh in students' minds while building on them each year.

Contact: Amanda Browning 812-663-3111 x7004; ___ (c)2014 the Greensburg Daily News (Greensburg, Ind.) Visit the Greensburg Daily News (Greensburg, Ind.) at Distributed by MCT Information Services

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