The internet is a double-edged sword. It’s filled with useful information. We have knowledge and power at our fingertips, and there is a lot of good it can do for the world. But, the internet is also dangerous and scary. There are dark corners of the internet where harmful things lurk. How can we keep our students safe? If you ever use technology in your classroom, it’s imperative that you teach internet safety for kids.
What does internet safety mean?
Internet safety for kids can mean a wide variety of things, from protecting passwords to not having access to inappropriate content. Essentially, internet safety is about protecting the student (and also equipment) from potentially dangerous content.
When teaching internet safety, especially to young students, it might feel a little awkward. How do I explain that the internet can be a dangerous place? However, with younger students, you don’t need to give much explanation as to what “bad things” are out there. Instead, approach it from the standpoint of protecting your information and keeping them safe.
You should also encourage parents to speak with their children about internet safety. If you share any information with students, consider sending it home to share with parents as well.
How do I teach internet safety to kids?
There are lots of ways to teach internet safety, but first and foremost, this should be taught before giving students access to any sort of device. As the adult in the classroom, you are responsible for keeping them safe and monitoring their activity.
When you’re ready to begin, here are the activities I’d recommend when talking about internet safety for kids:
Internet Safety Mini-Lessons
First, you have to introduce the concepts! With young students, this may be the first time anyone has ever talked about internet safety for kids. I recommend taking it one lesson at a time.
When giving students the rules, have an anchor chart or internet safety poster that they can refer to. Then, walk them through the rule and maybe even give them some scenarios to think through. Here are the topics I always talk about in my internet safety for kids lessons –
- Online Etiquette
- Check with an Adult
- Keep it Private
- Think Before you Post
Act Out Scenarios
Another activity is to get students involved and work through different internet safety scenarios. You can have students act out the scene while you read it, and then ask them to act out how they would solve the issue the wrong way and then the right way.
For example, you and your friends are playing an online game. Someone you don’t know sends you a message. They are asking things like what your name is and where you live. What should you do?
What Should You Do? Task Cards
Give students some independence to explore the new internet safety tips they have learned. In pairs or groups, have students look over task cards and decide how they would respond in different scenarios. At the end of class, ask the pairs or groups to share their answers.
For example, the card might say they got an email from a stranger saying they won a free Xbox. What should they do? Students will discuss and then write down their answers.
Read and Write
Bring together literacy skills with your internet safety for kids’ lessons. In this activity, you can give students longer pieces of writing or scenarios to think about. Then, ask them several critical thinking questions about the scenario, and they will write their answers.
For example, you might explain a situation where someone wins a “free trip” to Disney Land and types in personal information to claim the prize. Ask students comprehension questions and deeper thinking questions to unpack what happened in the scenario and what the person should do next.
Done-for-You Internet Safety for Kids Resource
If you want to implement these resources with your library students, I have a ready-made resource that contains materials for these activities and more. Here is what you’ll find in the Internet Safety Resource –
- 20 internet safety posters in two different color options
- Internet safety bookmarks
- 2 assessment sheets
- 8 internet safety situation task cards
- 4 internet safety situation worksheets with longer scenarios
- Internet safety pledge
- Internet safety certificate
With these activities, you can feel confident that your students have the skills and knowledge to begin using technology in the classroom. Plus, you can review the skills year-round with the posters.
All of the activities are low-prep, so you can simply print (and sometimes cut) the elements that you want to use. Then, you are set to go!
I hope these internet safety for kids activities helps you brainstorm ways you can implement internet safety in your classroom or library. Truly, you can never be too safe or cautious when it comes to students using technology.