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Kid Internet Safety

1. Social Media is Not Going Away
Contextually, things have not really changed. In the early 1990s the debate was similar as it today. School administrators were adamantly against allowing access to the Internet – the big fear being pornography and predators. If you fast forward, it seems as though we’re confronted with similar issues today. Can you imagine a school not being connected to the Internet now? Impossible!

However, in pure numbers and usage there has been a big change. For example, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation survey, almost ¾ of seventh to twelfth graders have at least one social media profile, and the survey group used social sites more than they played games or watched videos online. Also, you cannot ignore social medias like Facebook have grown to over 500 million users in 7 years, and I haven’t even gone into the details of sites like Myspace, Tagged, MyYearBook, Ning, Hi 5, and LinkedIn. Social media growth is exponential.

Also, here’s something else that endorses social networks are here to stay. Not to long ago, some public schools in the UK had an Internet “lock down”, and the students basically rebelled. Marks, absenteeism & attitudes changed during this “lock down”. Unlike the teacher who had positive results with her pilot “Facebook” program, the kids who went through this “lock down” period seemed not to take responsibility for their actions.

Bottom line – social networks are here to stay. Parents or teachers should get on board – learn it & teach it.

2. Kids Are Better Learners When Engaged
A 3rd and 4th grade Minnesota teacher started using blogs in his classroom in 2007 as a way to motivate students to write. The results were amazing. Students loved it.

In many examples, students have shown to become keenly aware that blogging is not just writing on a piece of paper that gets handed to the teacher, and gets handed back with a smiley. They know that blogging is a shared concept, and friends or other people may even stumble across their writings. There is a concept of power in that notion.

Kids are enthusiastic about in-class blogging. In the pilot Facebook project previously mentioned, students got to school earlier and the overall quality of their work increased.

Parents and teachers – when kids are engaged, they learn better. We need to become engaged before we help them become engaged.

3. Safe Social Media Tools and They’re Free
A teacher started using blogs to teach kids, and ended up developing a ‘social media platform’. His platform allowed him to monitor and approve everything that the kids were posting online, and kept kids safe from inappropriate advertising. This teacher then developed a similar web-based tool, which teachers use today. The tool is called kidblog.org.

Kidblog is one of the hottest Web 2.0 tools in K-8 education, which allows teachers to easily blog with their classes in a teacher-kid-friendly environment. Teachers tend to gain a sense of the interaction taking place as the students navigate their way through their class members’ blogs, and teachers can also invite other classes and guests to participate in the class’ discussions, thereby broadening the readership audience and increasing motivation for students. Multiple teachers can also collaborate within a Kidblog class and share moderation responsibilities.

From a safety perspective, teachers have full administrative control over all comments, posts, and privacy settings. The administrator has the ability to preview and approve (or unapprove) content published by students (and other visitors, if allowed by their privacy settings). Kidblog endorses privacy & does not collect any personal information from students.

Kidblog also never subjects students to advertising, so teachers can feel comfortable knowing that the publishing environment is free from distractions.