Staying safe on the internet

Last Updated 14 June 2019, 11:12 IST

The internet, the prime medium for getting information in the current times, is surely in a place where its importance and need is difficult to be measured. Increasingly, teachers are using technology in classrooms – from computers, interactive whiteboards and tablets to mobile phones and game consoles. These devices are often most effective when connected to the internet, which offers a vast amount of resources that cannot be found in traditional resource books. The internet also offers an opportunity for learners to practice their language skills at their own pace, thereby encouraging learner autonomy.

Internet is playing an important role in transforming the library system and the way in which we view library resources and services. It is just not easy to access but also saves the time and effort of a person searching for specific information.

Internet library has simplified the life of a user. One can order books and journals while technical processing of the documents can be done easily. However, the internet library has many drawbacks too, like the lack of comprehensiveness, coverage, the inability to distinguish between popular material and research work, lack of controlled vocabulary and a casual approach of the web page designer, which often makes the web database more difficult to search. Sometimes the information mentioned on the web may not be authentic.

Though the internet is a wonderful teaching and learning tool, it can pose great risks if not used safely. These can be associated with 3 Cs ­­— Content, Conduct and Contact. If not well informed about these risks, children may use it in the wrong way and put themselves in dangerous situations.

Make adolescents aware

Internet is very useful for entertainment, information collection, discussions, opinion formation, networking, etc. But teachers and parents can’t afford to ignore some of the risks. Instead, they should talk about e-safety with children, listen to their opinions and most importantly, make some rules.

Teenagers use the internet the most nowadays, even small children use computers, tablets, and mobile phones regularly for playing games. Discussing the issue of e-safety with young children will help them avoid making mistakes and learn how to use the internet effectively and safely.

It’s important that teachers know what to do in this situation. It’s definitely worth checking with the school authorities what the e-safety policy is, what procedures are in place, and who to contact in case of an emergency. Counselling sessions should be held to teach students how to use the internet in the right way.

For instance, children may share their thoughts, feelings and images on social media due to peer pressure and may be asked to provide their personal details in order to access games and apps. Discuss the idea that personal information has value.

They should be selective about the information they give away, and only provide details that are absolutely necessary. Remind them that posts can be shared without their knowledge, so they should be careful about what they disclose, even to their friends.

Strong, secure passwords are essential for maintaining your privacy. Passwords should be a random combination of numbers, letters and punctuation, and should never include personal information such as birthdates or names. Passwords should be changed regularly and not be used across multiple accounts. Using a password manager is a good way to keep a secure record for all your passwords.

Explain to your students or children that they must not share their passwords with anyone, especially at school or online. However, it may be appropriate for parents to know their children’s passwords, in order to monitor the online behaviour and keep them safe.

If you’re planning to use the internet in the classroom, always check the websites carefully in advance, including pages the website links to. A foolproof check is essential because even the most ‘innocent’ websites may include content not suitable for young learners.

The next important thing is making sure that the learners, when using computers, tablets or mobile phones in class, know what websites they should be looking at.

Careful monitoring of students as they do their work is vital. This might mean re-organising the room in a way that allows you to observe students as they work.

Finally, talk to your students about internet safety regularly, and if assigning homework that requires using the internet, prepare a list of websites that are safe to use and share the list with parents.

(The writer is with Cambridge Montessori Pre-School)

(Published 14 June 2019, 10:58 IST)

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