Common Sense Media Improves Online Safety for Students

common sense onlineWe have heard many stories about students who were bullied online and turned to drastic means. Only a few months ago, Phoebe Price committed suicide due to online bullying.

You would think that due to the attention paid to this serious issue, students would be less likely to ridicule each other on Facebook, MySpace, or other websites. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case, and it’s starting younger and younger.

Kevin Jenkins, a fourth-grade teacher, wanted to teach his students how to use the Internet. Sadly, some of the students posted surveys to find out who was the most popular student in class or who was the best-liked student and conversely, who was the least popular and the least-liked student.

Jenkins was upset by his students’ actions, and has now decided to teach them about the Internet using lessons from Common Sense Media, a program that urges children to consider their behavior online to spare the feelings of others.

Common Sense offers “a free curriculum to schools that teaches students how to behave online.” The program is popular in many states, including New York, Nebraska, California, and Florida.

It’s important for students to learn proper online etiquette since they spend seven and a half hours each day online. Since most of this time is outside of school hours, this suggests that students spend almost all of their extracurricular time online.

In addition to teaching students how to properly interact with each other, Common Sense also helps students maintain their own safety online. Common Sense addresses five “ethical fault lines.” They are identity, privacy, ownership, credibility, and community. The goal is to teach students that the Internet creates a blurred line between private and public space, and how to walk that line.

In my opinion, the best advice for walking this line came from Shirin Oshidari, a mother of a seventh grader. Oshidari said: “To me, it’s exactly how you behave person to person. Everything you write [has consequences, and] the college you want to go to, they will see it. And the job you want to get, they will see it.”

Via The New York Times

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