For many middle school students (and a lot of adults I know) their online social community is pretty important to them. In the middle school many of these students are also pretty new to this new online world before them. While they are often wowed about the technology, they often forget that it is a world that can have some consequences as well. At my school we touch on it from time to time but we have started dedicating a whole week to the following topics to raise awareness.
- Security settings
- Online etiquette
- Consequences for online behavior
Just to be clear, we aren’t telling our students NOT to use Facebook or any social networks, we are trying to make them aware of facets they may not know about. So click on past the break to see what we do. Also, I’m just gong to write about the 6th grade presentation. As you’ll see it’s a lot of information, so I’ll break it up!
Grade 6 – Here is the presentation we showed. Some of the videos don’t play on slideshare.net, but I will link to the YouTube videos so you can still see them. Since the presentation is a little long and some of the slides don’t make a lot of sense on their own, I’ll explain some of them in more detail.
Once online always online
At first we talk about how students should lock down their Facebook account. With a lot of ease we were able to find a number of pictures very easily just by searching for them on Facebook. We emphasize that once we have the picture we can do whatever we want with it (print it, email it, Photoshop it, etc.) Then we have this video “Bulletin Board – Online Safety Commercial,” that gives an example about how once your image is online, it’s almost impossible to get it offline.
Dave from DAA
Then we talk about “Dave from DAA.” Last year I made a fake Facebook account and for two days I requested and accepted friend requests. I had no image, no information except that I was a student at our school. Within two hours I had almost 30 friends. I then deleted the Facebook account. I just discuss that you need to know who your friends are. If you can’t put a face with a name, then you shouldn’t accept their friend request. A lot of people (not just children) are fearful to deny or ignore someone’s request. We encourage our students to stay strong and think of their safety.
We also talk about if you get angry while online. We encourage students that sometimes what is written can be misunderstood, misinterpreted or simply be a typo! If this happens we suggest students to do the following:
- Take your hand off the mouse and get away from the computer
- Don’t react
- Try to calm yourself down
- Don’t add to someone else’s inappropriate messages
Tom’s Internet Story
Then we play this video “Tom’s Internet Safety Story,” highlighting the dangers of meeting and engaging people online who you don’t know. The video is pretty strong. We edited out the part on the middle where the predator is giving him beer. The video is quite powerful and even gave our principal some scary dreams.
In 4 minutes I discovered
This is a great section. One of our teachers went snooping through some public profiles and in 4 minutes here is what she discovered. The students all had a good laugh but the point was definitely made. If we can see it, anyone can see it.
She then talks about where to go on Facebook and how to make your account a little more secure. A big point she made, was that the new timeline opened up some security settings and made parts of your account more public. So, she emphasized that Facebook is changing all the time and that they need to be aware that when it changes, their security settings may change with it.
Your online reputation
This part was done by some seventh and eight graders. They did a great job talking about how an online reputation is just as powerful as one in the school. In fact, it can be more. The discussed about being nice online and being honest online as well. You want people to see your online reputation as an accurate reflection of what you are in person. I thought that is some good advice.
We then had this video about cyberbullying and how they DO have someone they can turn to.
Then our counselor then talked to the students that bullying online (especially if it defames someone) is illegal in the UAE if it is reported. This is good to show that there are laws out there. There are consequences for those who take cross the line. It would certainly seem to be a last resort but if someone’s safety is at risk it is good to know that one can turn to the police for help in these situations.
Our counselor then talked to the students about standing up and not being passive when they see bullying. She talks about how they are very powerful in preventing bullying and if it continues, then they can always print off what they see and bring it into her. A great idea. We close the assembly with this video about taking a stand agains bullies.
Overall I think our message was heard. If you have anything you’d like to share, ideas, thoughts, stories, please leave a comment below.