Children are taught from a very young age about keeping safe – let an adult know where you are, don’t talk to strangers. The same thing applies to the internet. Common Sense Media has an excellent lesson on this topic called Going Place Safely (You do need to register to download materials but it’s free). This particular lesson is designed for grades K-2 and I used it with first graders. The three rules that children should understand are:
- Always ask your parents or teachers before going on line!
- Only talk to people you know!
- Stick to places that are just right for you!
Common Sense Media does a very good job creating a lesson plan that is easy to implement. To start, the discussion focuses on traveling places with your parents or going on field trips. What are rules you need to follow? The students quickly respond with such answers as:
- Stay close to the adult.
- Always ask if you need to go somewhere else.
- Always go with a grown-up.
- Don’t talk to strangers.
Following that discussion, I told the students we’d be taking a long field trip today – without leaving the technology lab! Of course, there were oohs and ahhhs until someone realized, “Oh! We’re going on the internet!” We then related their previous responses with keeping safe on the internet. We talked about how it’s important to get parental permission before going online. I asked who had Skyped and lots of hands went up. My next question was, “Do you Skype with someone you know? “Oh, yes,” was the response. We talked about how sometimes we’d be Skyping with teachers and students we don’t know but as long as an adult is in charge, that’s alright. The next step was to visit several sites that were “just right” for children. This lesson recommended New York’s Modern Art Museum and the San Diego Zoo. I added the San Francisco Symphony for Kids and Colonial Williamsburg.
The students explored these sites for several minutes then were given a sheet of paper where they drew their favorite site. Rules were reviewed about how to keep safe.
It was a fun lesson that helped children make connections between safety rules they’ve heard all their lives and making safe choices online.