WaterShed Moment in the History of Online Safety Education

In Larry Magid's Brief, Poingnant Overview of the recent third annual conference of the Family Online Safety Institute, he called it a “WaterShed Moment int he History of Online Safety Education” I felt buoying hope.  Below are the extracted annotations from his article from me but I'd like to add something that I just emailed to Larry.

Wow, Larry. Just a note that your current article in the San Jose Mercury News is SPOT ON – http://www.mercurynews.com/breaking-news/ci_13723472?nclick_check=1

We've been seeing this in our Digiteen projects where the kids determine their own ACTION project to teach digital citizenship to the audience of their choice.  (You can see this year's action projects forming here – http://digiteen09-3.flatclassroomproject.org/Westwood+-+USA — they are right now in progress.) The kids research digital citizenship w/ partners around the world and self form teams.

One of the coolest is my Super Social Safety Team (http://supersocialsafety.blogspot.com and http://www.twitter.com/socialsafety ) they are testing programs for kids 8-12 and upset that many sites are being marketed that are irresponsible.

Just wanted to reach out and say YES!!  There are schools using social media like Nings and wikis and Twitter and some ARE receiving erate funding — eRate funding has long been an EXCUSE to do nothing and the blocking has gotten ridiculous with a lot of public schools not even being able to upload a video for Obama's youtube contest.

I hope that people are reading, but right now with budget cuts, outsourcing of filtration, and the typical struggle to keep your head above water mentality many of us have right now – I hope that wise people become progressive about these things and realize that the greatest danger is the person who picks up the kid in the car every day – not some random stranger who might see a kids picture on the Internet. (Although kids SHOULD be educated about that.) Personally, I think Digital Citizenship encompasses more than just safety and that all kids of all ages should be included.  But as my ninth graders say, they are often best qualified (with guidance) to create compelling educational lessons for younger kids on safety.  

Magid: Treating kids on the Web in a new way – San Jose Mercury News

  • a watershed moment in the 16-year history of online safety education.
  • in that young people were viewed less as potential victims of online crimes and more as participants in a global online community.
  • the “predator panic” that was rampant a few years ago has largely been put to rest as safety experts and law enforcement studies from the Crimes Against Children Research Center and elsewhere show that, statistically, the odds of a prepubescent child being sexually molested by an
  • online stranger is virtually zero and the odds of it happening to a teenager are very low, especially when compared with children who are harmed by family members and others they know from the real world.
  • the culprit is far more likely to be a fellow young person.
  • Kids are affected by their own behavior ranging from posting pictures or comments online that could come to haunt them later to “sexting,” sending nude or nearly nude pictures of themselves to others.
  • a few misguided ones have used these laws against children.
  • others continue to perpetuate myths about Internet dangers.
  • “one size doesn't fit all.
  • There was a lot of discussion about the lack of interactive social media in schools.

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Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis is a full-time classroom teacher and IT Director in Georgia, USA. She is Mom of three, wife of one, and loves talking about the wise, transformational use of technology for teaching and doing good in the world. She hosts the 10 Minute Teacher Podcast which interviews teachers around the world about remarkable classroom practices to inspire and help teachers. Vicki focuses on what unites us -- a quest for truly remarkable life-changing teaching and learning. The goal of her work is to provide actionable, encouraging, relevant ideas for teachers that are grounded in the truth and shared with love. Vicki has been teaching since 2002 and blogging since 2005. Vicki has spoken around the world to inspire and help teachers reach their students. She is passionate about helping every child find purpose, passion, and meaning in life with a lifelong commitment to the joy and responsibility of learning. If you talk to Vicki for very long, she will encourage you to "Relate to Educate" or "innovate like a turtle" or to be "a remarkable teacher." She loves to talk to teachers who love their students and are trying to do their best. Twitter is her favorite place to share and she loves to make homemade sourdough bread and cinnamon rolls and enjoys running half marathons with her sisters. You can usually find her laughing with her students or digging into a book.

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Anonymous November 18, 2009 - 3:40 pm

Thanks for the info regarding online predators – the was info I didn’t know and makes me feel more comfortable with kids being online. Kids do need to take more responsibility for what they will post or text – that is what lands them in trouble!

Theresa November 18, 2009 - 4:53 pm

Hi. This comment does not relate to this post, but I would love some teacher wisdom and advice.

I am a 24 year old substitute teacher. I sub in a variety of schools and the boys (especially freshmen and sophomores) think it’s funny to hit on me or try to flirt with me.

Do you have any advice to thwarting this behavior?
Any help would be greatly appreciated!

Vicki A. Davis November 29, 2009 - 11:04 pm


It is so nice that you asked for thoughts here and congratulations you are now young and obviously beautiful. This should be a problem now but I give it 10 years…

Substituting is a tough job and perfectly wonderful students will act up for a substitute – it is particularly tough for subs because you have to be careful about being too nice and smiling too much – if you do, you become a “target” in many ways.

#1 Look at the way you are dressed – this is not the time to look “super-hot” or sexy at all – this includes don’t wear low cut or tight shirts and don’t wear tight pants – look at how you are dressed and cover up a little more, be a little more austere. Don’t by any means try to look ugly – that is not what I’m saying but sometimes I found that when I subbed long term, that if I wore glasses the first day or two that it helped.

#2 Show quickly that you mean business – Have the work written on the board and don’t allow chatty time at the beginning of class – that gives them time to “plot” and these boys, given time, if you’re cute and 24 will hatch one, trust me. Get them to work quickly and although your inclination is to smile at the beginning of class, try not to – at least at the beginning. Get them in and get them busy. (And this is tough because some teachers may leave less than a perfect lesson plan.)

#3 Ask for feedback –
I know you’re a sub but if you do this a lot and have a teacher mentor you trust – ask them to sit in on the back of the class, particularly if you’re going to b e a long term sub and give you feedback on mixed signals you may be sending. And remember, you MAY NOT be sending signals at all – it may just be the boys but if there is an ongoing issue, I’d want to know.

#4 Firmly handle any approaches
This is obviously for a show so take the show out of it. A very quiet terse response that makes it clear that the next approach will cause an approach to the principle’s office and that you don’t find it funny – one that his friends cannot hear – will make it clear.

I’m 40 now so these are back “from the day” for me – this won’t be a problem forever but ask a few teachers their advice who may have had this problem.

Remember that one of the only things harder than being a teacher is being a SUBSTITUTE teacher!

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