Keeping Our Kids Safe Online
February 6, 2018, marked the annual Safer Internet Day that highlights the importance of creating a safer Internet. ConnectSafely is the organization in the United States that hosts this event and argues that not only is it critical to have a safe online experience, but create an environment where Internet users are empowered “…. to use technology responsibly, respectfully, critically, and creatively…” The E-rate program, a federal program that provides telecommunications discounts to public schools and libraries, has a requirement that all applicants must be compliant with the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA). CIPA requires all school districts to have an Internet Safety Policy and educate their students about cyber-bullying awareness.
The Internet safety policy must also address these five requirements:
- Access by minors to inappropriate matter on the Internet;
- The safety and security of minors when using electronic mail, chat rooms, and other forms of direct electronic communications;
- Unauthorized access, including so-called “hacking,” and other unlawful activities by minors online;
- Unauthorized disclosure, use, and dissemination of personal information regarding minors; and
- Measures restricting minors' access to materials harmful to them.
Our 21st Century students are spending more time accessing school related content online and would argue that it would be beneficial for educators and administrators to think about Internet safety issues each day as technology has been integrated into classroom instruction. School districts and public libraries who request Internet access through the E-rate program must certify that they are in compliance with CIPA and the K-12 community cannot be vigilant enough to educate our kids about how to navigate the Internet safely and responsibly.