Internet Safety & Literacy Tips for Parents
Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. Proverbs 4:23
At H.C.O.S. our students are encouraged to become wise, digital learners who can search online within boundaries, ensuring Internet safety and healthy learning. With this in mind here are some useful rules for providing Godly education for your new online learner.
- Talk to your students about responsibility while online regarding hours of use, which sites may be accessed and which ones are undesirable. Educate yourself about the Internet and which sites your students are using.
- Create family rules including hours of use and which sites may be accessed and which ones may not. Use nanny filters if necessary.
- Place your computer in a central, open location like the living room so Internet time can be supervised.
- Create tech free time, and encourage exercise on an ongoing basis after periods of stationary work at the computer.
- Read up more at the following websites: Canadian Centre for Child Protection and Cybertips
GUIDING YOUR STUDENTS ONLINE
We have several digital citizenship kits which teach your students more about Internet skills and safety online. Find them here.
Secure Your Computer
- We encourage you to make your computer secure. Install firewalls, anti-virus and anti-malware programs to prevent unauthorized access by online intruders who could install viruses, cookies and web bugs on your computer.
- Turn on the cookie notice function in your web browser if you are concerned about data mining. (Advanced tip: Consider allowing “session cookies” only which allow you to access programs or services when you need them but deletes most cookies automatically when you log off.)
- Vary your IP address by turning off your modem when you finish with your computer for the day, and leave it off overnight. When you turn it on the next day, your IP address will change. Search providers and other services you interact with online can see your IP address (unique to your computer) and link it with all your web searches
Use Search Engines wisely
- We encourage you to turn on your web browser’s ‘clear history’, and ‘clear cookie’ functions so the record of sites visited or cookies you accepted is deleted once you log off. If you are using a public computer erase the history function as you log off.
- Consider not logging in to (customize) your search engine. Although logging in provides you with a personalized page, images and tools to use, it also links all your searches with your identity.
- Consider not entering sensitive, personal information such as telephone, or financial, social insurance numbers, health information as search terms.
- Consider exploring and using search engines that claim not to collect any personal information at all, such as Ixquick (http://ixquick.com) and DuckDuckGo (https://duckduckgo.com).
- For quality Christian educational links you may send your students to the following open source textbooks or subject indexes, at HCOS Linking Library.
- Bookmark several subject indexes such as the following child friendly sites.
- Encourage your student to use child friendly search engines. Bookmark these engines:
KidRex search for Kids
SafeSearch Google search for primary students.
For safe searching use the following Search engines here
as well as this Scoopit newsletter on Google in Libraries links
- Make use of our large subscription library that offers reliable, academic and child friendly resources.
Select Good Passwords
- Develop strong and varied passwords for your programs and functions.
- Use nonsensical (except to you, of course) combinations of letters, numbers and symbols for your passwords.
- We encourage you to choose a blog service carefully. Only use blog sites that allow you some control over how much information you make public.
- If you are writing a blog, consider who your audience is or who you want it to be. If it is only for family, friends or other small groups, consider requiring a password for access to the blog. If for a larger audience, remember that what you say and how you say it may be archived and accessible to all for many years to come.
- If you are commenting on a blog, think carefully about how much personal information you share.
Email and Instant Messaging
- Virtually all email and instant messaging systems have archive functions and some even have recording functions, so anything and everything is conceivably retrievable even if you think it is transitory or has been “deleted”.
- It is best to not send or respond to personal email on mailing lists. With the click of a button or a processing error your messages could inadvertently go to everyone or the wrong people on the list.
- Try not to say or share things in an email or instant message that you would not be comfortable seeing printed on the front page of your local newspaper.
Social Network Safety
- Be your own best protection! Don’t post or share your personal information online, especially on pages where “new friends” or strangers can view it. Social networks are rife with hackers and identity thieves looking for victims.
- Make sure you search for and activate the privacy options and tools available on social networking sites, such as features allowing only known, trusted or approved family and friends to access your profile, personal pages or updates.
- Finally, be cautious and sensitive to the ramifications of what you post about yourself or anyone else online. Little words can lead to big harm and ruin friendships, careers and even lives, so be vigilant in protecting your own privacy and respectful of everyone else’s.
Protecting Content Privacy
- Investigate new applications, services and web sites before you use them.
- Understand the basic functionality of each application, service or web site before you upload any personal information to it and read their service agreements and privacy policies carefully.
- Remember that if you are uploading or creating words or images on 3rd party web sites, such as Picasa, Facebook and YouTube, the information is stored on their servers.
- All profile pictures and names should reflect the individual’s correct identity and should not be misleading in any way.
- Encourage open dialogue with your students about other people who might engage them about personal information.
- Alert your students to possible online dangers such as giving out personal information to strangers. Advise them to stay clear of chatting online in chat rooms with people they do not know, unless it is in a moderated forum. Younger children, below the age of 13 should not be in chat rooms. Report any strange or inappropriate conversations to a teacher, or moderator. There are moderators on our school websites.
- Encourage safe chatting with groups like our Forum & Book Club, and Ning:
- If your child starts receiving inappropriate mail or phone calls, get to the bottom of it immediately.
- Tell your students that if someone harasses them online or makes them uncomfortable in any way, they should tell a parent or teacher or someone they trust.
- Contact the police immediately if your student receives child pornography, is sexually solicited, or has received any inappropriate explicit images on the Internet.
INFORMATION ON CYBER SAFETY
- Cyber Safety – What’s That?
- Internet Awareness for Parents
- What is cyber-bullying?
- Lesson plans for online safety
- Get Net Wise
- Online course in cyber-safety
- Younger elementary students may watch this video on BrainPop on Internet safety.
Need Help Now- images and sharing
Heritage Christian Online School 2015
Sections of the following document have been used with copyright agreement from Vancouver Island University care of Julia Hengstler.