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    Text Box: CYBER SAFETY – KEEPING OUR CHILDREN SAFE

     

     

     

     

     
    “It’s 10 PM.  Do you know where your children are?”  


    This sobering public service question was first posed to parents during the summer of 1967 to draw attention to the safety of adolescents and young adults during the public protests and riots in New York City.  The message had the intended affect as parents across the country increased their vigilance in monitoring the whereabouts and activities of their children.  

     

    While the ten o’clock is as applicable today as it was nearly fifty years ago, today’s 21st century parents cannot be lured into a false sense of security when all the kids are accounted for and nestled together under the same roof.  Today’s parents must be keenly aware of the dangers that exist when children venture out via the web from their home computers and mobile devices.  Actively monitoring computer activity with frequent check-ins remains the most important safety measure that parents can take; however, the increased ease of internet accessibility and wireless availability means that today’s children spend more time on the web unsupervised than ever before.  For this reason, it is critical that parents teach and talk to their children about making good choices when it comes to internet safety. 

     

    Cyber safety discussions between parent and child are most effective when the dialogue is on-going and authentic.  Using real-time events as teachable moments help children make connections between their on-line behavior and the potential consequences of poor choices.  The dangers of the web are all too real, but the advantages and accessibility of useful information for life and work in the 21st century cannot be underestimated.  Our children’s future will be more tech dependent than any previous generation, it is our mission as parents and educators to help them navigate their journey as informed, cyber-wise citizens.

     

     

    What can you do to keep your child safe?

     

    • Filtering – Experts suggest installing software to filter and block inappropriate content on your wireless home network.  Filters can be set to block internet access completely, or to block certain sites.  Most software packages allow the parent to completely control what and when access to specific sites is allowed or blocked.  Without filtering software, a user can access any website at any time.

       

      Listed below are possible filters to consider, just click on the link for more information.

    • Restrictions – For many students today, their device of choice is their cell phones.  A quick and easy way of putting a filter on a cell phone is the use of Restrictions.  Most cell phone operating systems allow you to create a password separate from what the child would use to unlock his or her screen that will limit web content, ability to download apps, make purchases and set ratings for movies, games, apps, and use of explicit language.

       

      Some providers include filtering options as part of the phone’s software package, but be aware that these are typically limited to cellular connections and don’t include WiFi, and may not work on certain plans.  For specifics on your service provider, Google your service provider with the words “parental controls”.    


      Listed below are possible filters to consider, just click on the link for more information.

    • Other Important Tips:

    • Keep the computer in a high-traffic area of your home.

    • Know your child’s passwords.  This allows you to gain access to their email, social networking sites, etc., in the case of an emergency.

    • Google family members to be aware of your cyber footprint online.  Set up a Google Alert for each family member for free.

    • Establish limits for which online sites children may visit and for how long.

    • Know who is connecting with your children online and set rules for social networking, instant messaging, e-mailing, online gaming, and using webcams.

    • Continually dialogue with your children about online safety.  Encourage your child to only be friends online with individuals that they have met in person.  Watch iKeepSafe.org’s Faux Pas the Cat (for Elementary students) and discuss current news stories about this topic with Secondary students.

    • Discourage the posting of personal information online including: full name, address, phone number, email, cell phone, posting where you intend to be, hang out, or meet your friends on social media sites.

    • Regularly check privacy setting on all commonly used sites and networks.  Ignoring privacy settings on sites like Instagram and Facebook means that your personal information, photos, interests, phone number, and GPS location could be shared with more than a billion people!

    • Parents can contact the FCC and file a report against inappropriate web content and/or inappropriate email content.

       

    • Helpful Internet Safety Resources for Parents:

    Brandywine School District - You're Partner in Cyber Safety

    • Knowledge is Power – Teaching Cyber Awareness and Safety

      The safety and security of our children remains the top priority for the Brandywine School District – including cyber safety.  The tips and strategies provided above for parents are equally applicable and as is the level of active attention and vigilance in monitoring activity and educating students about cyber safety.  To this end, the District uses iSafe, a comprehensive e-Safety curriculum that spans Kindergarten through 11th Grade.  This CIPA (Children's Internet Protection Act) compliant curriculum focuses on three main areas: 1) Appropriate Online Behavior; 2) Social Networking; 3) Cyber Bullying.  Thanks to the generosity of the Delaware Center for Educational Technology (DCET), Brandywine has access to iSafe’s Gold Plus subscription package providing lessons and units in the following areas:

      • Digital Communication & Citizenship

      • Digital Safety

      • Digital Security Skills & Practices

      • Online Contacts and Connections

      • Online Creativity and Ownership

      • 21st Century Media Literacy

      • Appropriate Online Behavior

        The curriculum is delivered in a very formal and structured manner at the Elementary level, with the module lessons being covered primarily by the Library Media Specialist and reinforced by teachers in the delivery of core content instruction.  At the secondary level, students are exposed to components of the curriculum across all core content and elective classes.

    •  Filtering

    As part of the state network, the primary filtering of internet access is controlled at the state level by the Delaware Department of Technology and Information.  Known inappropriate websites are blocked and additional websites are restricted based on key words being used in the search title.  The filtering used by DTI meets or exceeds federal guidelines for PK-12 educational agencies.  While these sophisticated filters have an extremely high success rate, no filter should be considered absolute. 

    As Brandywine continues to move forward with building a robust wireless infrastructure capable of supporting continuous use of student devices throughout the school day, the District will develop a student network within each building.  While this network will be exclusively dedicated for students’ instructional use, the same level of filtering will be applied.

    •  Student-to-Student and Student-to-Teacher Electronic Correspondence 

    The Brandywine School District is in the process of implementing a Learning Management System called Schoology.  While Schoology offers an array of benefits to students and staff alike, it will also serve as a secure environment for communication between students and between students and staff.  Since Schoology is secure and restricted to only BSD students and staff, the District has the ability to monitor any and all communications within the system.  A more thorough explanation of the benefits of Schoology and the District’s implementation can be found in the Technology section of the District website.