Teach Watts

BlogHer Original Post

When I ponder the question of who's responsibility is it to teach students to be safe online, I fall back on the saying by Hillary Clinton, "It takes a village to raise a child". I am not sure how this is any different than any other aspect of learning. As a society, we have an obligation to teach children to respect themselves and protect themselves in all aspects of their lives. Whether it is a Pre-K school posting pictures of students on their website, a third grade teacher posting a student's reading of a story on their class blog, a seventh grade teacher quoting a student's reflection about a project on their personal blog, a tenth grade teacher sharing a beautiful poem created about a student that lost his life, . . . everyone has a responsibility to keep our children safe.

As a parent of three elementary children, I have a responsibility to teach my children how to protect themselves online. I have recently allowed my two boys to join clubpenguin, and I have restricted them from having conversations with other penguins. Yet within a few weeks, I noticed my boys had multiple penguins they could sign in as . . . without my knowledge. They had shared with their friends their "private" passwords and their friends had shared their "private" passwords with my children. Immediately their online safety was in question, and they had only had their accounts for a few weeks. These children are my neighbors and they do not have an agenda to throw my kids to the wolves, but even after many discussions with my children, they did not understand the basic concept of online privacy.

How am I to explain the concept of highly complex online relationships to my children when they have trouble grasping the simple concept of protecting their password? I will do it as I do everything else; I will tell them again and again until I am blue in the face. Hopefully, other parents, teachers, family and friends will continue to bring this message into their lives, and eventually it will sink in. But only if we all work as a village, will any child be safe online.


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