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Parents » 21 Century Cybersmart Parenting

21 Century Cybersmart Parenting

 12 Basic Cybersmart Tips For Parents and Guardians

As your children's first Internet access provider, you must become cybersmart in order to help them wisely use the World Wide Web. Today's kids are getting connected at younger and younger ages. They're exposed to cyberspace at home, at school, and at their friends' homes. This means that it's important for you to keep current with your children's online activities and to communicate with them often.
Here are some basics to help you protect your children against many dangers on the Web, which can range from sexual predators and bullies (known on the Web as cyber bullies) to your children's own potentially risky behavior.
  1. Learn all you can about the Internet. For younger children, find and mark sites for them to visit, perhaps with you. These can include fun activity sites, library reference sites, and search engines for help on school projects.
  2. Talk to your kids about the Internet and the importance of being safe while online. Assure your children that whatever rules you set are for their safety.
  3. Put the computer in an open area of your home, such as the living room or kitchen. This will make it easier to monitor activity than if the computer is in your children's bedrooms.
  4. Become familiar with parental control programs. These are computer software programs that filter or block content that is inappropriate for your children.Some track what sites your children visit.
  5. Monitor your children's Internet use. Maintain access to their e-mail accounts, chat-room activities, and any social networks they are on. If children get uneasy when you enter a room while they're on the computer, this might indicate they are visiting an off-limits site or engaging in some questionable online activity.
  6. Have your children show you their favorite online sites.
  7. Get to know your children's online friends and remind them to avoid befriending people they don't know and trust.
  8. If one of your children informs you of an inappropriate site, report it to your Internet service provider or the company that created the material.
  9. Set up and/or learn all of your children's passwords and screen names/usernames (online identities). Make sure screen names don't reveal information about your children's real names, addresses, school, or age. Keep a record.
  10. Spend time online together until you are assured that your children understand the Internet's potential dangers and how to handle difficult situations.
  11. Make sure that Internet access at your children's schools is monitored by adults. If your children have internet access at their friends' homes, ask the parents what rules they have in place. Find out if the children are monitored while online.
  12. Enforce screen-time rules. Also, limit the time your children spend in front of computers for non-academic purposes.

Talk to Your Children About the Internet 

It's important to tell your children what you expect from them as they surf the Web. Here are some things you can say:
  1. "Never tell anyone online anything personal about you unless you first ask me or a person I say you can trust. This includes your name, address, phone number, password(s), school name, or parents' names."
  2. "Never agree to meet anyone in person you meet online unless I say you can and I go with you."
  3. "Remember that online a person may pretend to be someone he or she is not."
  4. "Don't say mean things to anyone online, or pass along mean things (gossip) about others."
  5. "If others say mean things online, go to another Web site or sign off quickly. Always tell me if this happens."
  6. "Don't stay on any site you would feel uncomfortable showing to me. Always let me know immediately if you find something upsetting on the Internet."
  7. "Don't do anything online that you know you shouldn't do in real life."
  8. "Don't respond to messages that have bad words in them or just seem weird."
  9. "Don't enter a Web site that charges for services unless you ask me first and I say OK."
  10. "Never e-mail or post photos of yourself without my permission."
  11. "Get my approval before downloading anything from the Internet."
  12. "If you don't follow the rules, you will lose privileges." (Parents: decide what is most appropriate for your family).

Basic Internet Terms to Know 

BLOGS  Personal online journals or diaries(weblogs).
BROWSER  A software program that lets you access or navigate the Internet. Some popular browsers are Firefox, Safari, and Microsoft Internet Explorer.
BUDDY LIST  A collection of other users' screen names in an instant messaging or e-mail program, online game, or cell (mobile) phone.Also called contacts or address book.
CHAT ROOM  A Web page that lets users communicate instantly with each other about a specific topic.
DEFAULT SETTING  The setting a software application,computer program, or device automatically opens to unless the user makes changes to it.
DISCUSSION GROUPS/BOARDS  Online group communications about certain topics. (Students often establish school-related groups).
DOWNLOAD To receive data from one electric system to another, such as a music file (Mp3) from the Internet to a home computer.
E-MAIL  Electronic communication sent from one electronicaccount to another.
INSTANT MESSAGING (IM)  Immediate communication exchangedwith anyone else electronically.
INTERNET SERVICE PROVIDER (ISP)  Any company that connectsyou to the Internet. Some providers are dial-up services, available via phonelines; others are through cable. They vary in the speed of connection and in theservices they offer. ISPs include AT&T, Netzero, Qwest, Comcast, andothers.
REAL TIME Communicating on the Internet at the same timeor simultaneously, such as in chat rooms or instant messages. This differs frome-mail exchanges in which one person leaves a message and the other personresponds later on.
SEARCH ENGINE  A Web page that allows you to search forinformation on the Internet. Popular search engines are Google, Yahoo, and AskJeeves.
SOCIAL NETWORKING SITES  These are online "communities"such as Facebook and MySpace in which members share personal information aboutthemselves.
TEXTING  The exchange of written messages between mobilephones over cellular networks.
UPLOAD  To send data from one electronic system toanother, such as a picture file (jpg) from a digital camera to a Web page.

Cyberbulling and Your Child 

 Bullies are nothing new. But Internet accessibility has given bullying a new twist. It has created cyber bullies, who bully others via electronic devices. Cyber bullies use e-mail, IMs, blogs, chat rooms, and social networking sites as well as cell phone texting and photos to harass their victims. In 2007, a report from the National Crime Prevention Council indicated that 43% of teens reported being victims of cyber bullying.
Cyber bullies do such things as:
  • send insulting messages and threats
  • spread rumors
  • post embarrassing photos
  • pose as someone else and send messages supposedly from that person
  • share someone's secrets online
  • exclude someone from an online group
Tell your children to let you know if they are being cyber bullied. If any of your children are:
  • Have them save all communication from the cyber bully, including e-mails, IMs, and text messages.
  • Report incidents to your Internet and/or cell phone service provider, as well as the appropriate authorities, such as your child's school and/or the police.
  • Find out how to block the cyber bully's e-mail address and phone number. You can also "un-friend" someone from a  social networking site. Change your child's online contact information.

Policy for Technology Devices Brought to School 

Policy for Technology Devices Brought to School

Dear Parents,

 We now have to be very vigilant about “Cyber Safety” and my ultimate goal is to try to keep students as safe as possible while using technology at Gardenhill.  Although our students have primarily been making good choices thus far, I want to put some boundaries in place on a family device that may come to school, because students are using technology more and more in school as a tool. 

 If your child is bringing an iPad or iPod to school for any reason, the following ratings apply for movies, songs and games:

 Kindergarten through 5th Grade:

Movie Ratings: RATED G


Apps & Game Rating: Ratings should be no more than the age of the student. For example, if your child is in 1st grade, the rating should not be greater than 7 years old.


 Students will not be allowed to bring a device unless it aligns with the above ratings.  If a device should come to school, the device will be taken away immediately.  An inappropriate rating may be a possible cause for suspension, and the student will not be allowed to bring the device for the rest of the year.

 Also, please partner with me in checking all devices for appropriate pictures.  If a device should come with any inappropriate pictures, the same consequences apply.

 Let’s keep our Gardenhill students safe with developmentally appropriate content.  This will make for healthier students.