Teaching Internet Security, Safety in Our Classrooms

By DeFranco, Joanna F. | Techniques, May 2011 | Go to article overview

Teaching Internet Security, Safety in Our Classrooms


DeFranco, Joanna F., Techniques


THERE IS A MISCONCEPTION: "KIDS KNOW MORE than We Do About the Internet." Do teens know more than their parents and teachers about how to use the Internet? Teens may be more familiar with the latest blog or social networking" site; however, with 56 percent of teens posting personal information (McAfee, 2010) on the Internet and child predators and criminals looking for tins information I think not.

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Here is the wakeup call: The FBI has made cybercrime its number three priority (fbi.gov, 2010), following terrorism and counterintelligence. In addition, cyber criminals are scraping the social networking sites, using the automated free tools available on the Internet, to collect the personal information posted by social network users so they can more easily com mil crimes. On the bright side, many of the issues can be mitigated with a few simple steps to increase the difficulty of criminals gaining access to our personal information, and potentially us.

Educators Need to Take the Lead

Internet security is an important topic for educators due to curriculums now incorporating tools such as the Internet, Google docs, e-portfolios and course management systems. Those tools require students to spend more time online, where they are susceptible to manipulation or intimidation if they do not stay on task. Kids of all ages lack emotional maturity. They also need attention and validation; combine that with their extreme lack of caution, and a broadband connection, and we now have a big problem.

The problem is best described with terms coined by Marc Prensky (2001). He referred to people who did not grow up with the Internet as the Internet Immigrants (over 30 years of age), and the Internet Natives are those who grew up with the Internet (under 30 years of age). The problem is that the immigrants are raising the natives and assume the natives know what they are doing because they have so much interest in the latest technology. Unfortunately, the focus is on obtaining and using the bells and whistles of the new technology, rather than the dangers that come along with it.

Immigrants raising natives is not a new situation. For example, in the early 1900s when immigrants arrived from oilier parts of the world, they needed to focus more on feeding their families than educating their children. They accomplished this by sending young children to work instead of school--obviously dangerous, but probably necessary. Laws were then created to make sure all children attended school. Our society cannot wait for Internet safety to be a required part of the curriculum or depend solely on parents who may not have the knowledge to leach Internet safely.

Why is it Suddenly OK to Talk to Strangers?

Technology has allowed us to obtain knowledge in a most efficient way. However, utilizing that technology is also leaving us vulnerable to exploitation. We tell our children not to talk to strangers, yet that is exactly what they are doing on the Internet. As mentioned earlier, more than half of teens are posting personal information such as name, age and address, and are chatting with people they have met in chat rooms and social networking sites. The Internet is misleading in that people use it in seclusion, feeling somewhat anonymous and sale when they post their personal accounts and photos. People are posting where they live, not only with text, but with the photos taken from their smartphones. Taking pictures using mobile phones with GPS capability will embed the longitude and latitude of where the photo was taken. Therefore, if you post a photo on a social networking site taken In front of your house using your smartphone, and mention von are going on vacation next week or that you work every day you have just sent an open invitation to a burglar.

Online Predators

There are not enough FBI agents in locate and arrest every online predator. …

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