Monday, December 7, 2009

Safe Technology Topics We Should Teach Children

As I mentioned in my "Thoughts on Technology" post, as educators, we need to keep up with the rapidly changing times. It is no longer sufficient to only teach kids how to stay safe when dealing with strangers they might encounter while walking home from school. We now need to teach them how to deal with strangers encountered online. Unfortunately, we also need to alert them to the other dangers that exist on the World Wide Web and with other modes of technology like cell phones. Identity safety, cyberbullying, cyber predators, dealing with innappropriate content, and safely using social networking sites are just some of the topics we should cover at an early age.

Since this would be a new addition to the health curricula across grade levels, I would form a committee of parents, technology education staff, teachers, and possibly students in middle or high school settings, to determine what issues need to be taught. I would also hold meetings for parents alerting them to the dangers that exist when using technology so that they can be aware when students are using technology at home.

Below are some links Technology Safety committees can use when planning lessons to instruct students and parents about safe and healthy technology practices. I have also excerpts of a video teachers can watch with their middle and high school classes about internet safety.

excerpts from "Internet Safety: Pitfalls and Dangers"

Safety on Social Networking Sites


Your Words and Pictures in CyberSpace

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Thoughts on Technology

It would be an understatement to say "technology changes everything". This is not a newsflash to anyone; not even my 83 year old grandfather who just recently bought his first cellphone and thinks a computer is on the horizon.

We no longer write letters because we can email. There is no need to write invitations when inviting people to a gathering because there are websites for that. We are less apt to pick up the phone when we can text the same message. There is no need to call a restaurant to put in an order when you can do it online. You can even track your Dominoes pizza almost right to the very minute it arrives at your front door. I can't remember the last time I dropped something in the mailbox because I pay all of my bills electronically. Remember the days of calling someone to ask for directions to their house? With websites like MapQuest and a Garmin at your fingertips, this is no longer necessary. We can even get masters and doctoral degrees on the internet! It seems like the benefits of technology are limitless. Right? Absolutely. Who wouldn't agree? What would we do without cell phones, eBanking, online shopping, email, and Facebook?

However, as with anything, there are deltas. There are people in the world who use the advancements in technology to tarnish reputations, hurt others, steal, etc. As technology advances, we need to also advance our ammunition to combat such deltas. Whether we combat these deltas by developing anti-virus programs, privacy statements on websites, more complex passwords, using security questions, or enabling parental controls; we need to constantly "up the ante" to make technology safer.

As a school administrator, I can not imagine introducing yet another set of objectives or a program to my faculty that I want them to implement. Not only is my staff responsible for educating students, but they need to make sure they have eaten breakfast, are appropriately dressed, are mentally stable, receive guidance counseling if necessary, and recently, teachers had to take time out of their days to make sure students received the H1N1 vaccine so their parents did not have to make a doctor's appointment. Educators provide counseling for parents going through divorce and how to raise their children. I do not necessarily agree with all of these responsibilities, but it is what it is, right? One responsibility I have not seen schools assume, which I think is more important than many of the other 8 billion responsibilities, is educating children about safe technology practices. Now I know this is not an area tested by standardized testing, but we need to keep up with the times. I think safe technology practices should be a health unit across all grade levels. It should be taught right along with mental health, nutrition, and fitness. It would be much easier to introduce it to my staff if it were a requirement from the health office. My teachers are constantly frustrated and feeling that they are unable to tackle all of curriculum objectives that when I introduce a new initiative, they are hesitant to get on board if it is not part of the curriculum. If the health office eliminated objectives that are antiquated or could be covered at home and added safe technology objectives, teachers would get on board with teaching these new topics.

Throughout this blog, I will be posting ideas, links, and videos for educators to use in their classrooms with students. I will also be posting articles to reiterate my point about why this is crucial. We need to educate our students about how to be safe when using technology. I would actually put this topic on the URGENT list.