Once again, I find myself torn as an educator parent living in this world of technology. I want to allow my child freedom to learn about all that interests her using technology and trust her actions, but I do not want to have certain discussions with an 8-year old.
Long story short – after much debating, researching, and long term thinking….we surprised our daughter with her own Chromebook! It is white, so she calls it Snow White. 🙂 So precious.
Very quickly I realized I needed make sure our knowledge of internet safety was the same! Here is what is so very hard for me. As an educator, I preach (and I really have, to many other parents and teachers) that we cannot shelter our kids from this. It is not going away. We must teach them how to search responsibly and how to act, not react, when they do stumble across an ad that isn’t so nice. We need to TEACH them these things from the very beginning.
I feel safe search sites are set up to do their job. I feel kids who know what to do and how to act responsibly will know how to properly use the internet. I feel kids deserve our trust in them. We cannot control their every move in real life when they are not with us. Right?! I have followed this philosophy with my kids in class and we have never had a problem! Really. So, I will keep on preaching.
Then it happened!
When your child is searching what her name means on a kid safe search engine site, you would not think urban dictionary would pop up as a top site choice, but it did…and she chose it. As we all went about cleaning up the kitchen, unaware of this, she began reading aloud what other names meant. I then realized, it was time to have a deeper lesson on the topics of internet searching, safety, media literacy, and all of the above. And quite honestly, it scares me as a MOM, not an educator. I had to find a way to protect my little girl as much as I can, while educating her on how to search effectively, while also allowing her freedom to search topics of interest without choices that are inappropriate showing up. Is that too much to ask? 😉 We already have a house rule of using computer/iPad in same room as grown up, but when she is on a kid safe site….you just don’t think twice. Until now.
So, here is what I solidified in this lesson:
1. You cannot be there all the time to hold their hand and protect them from everything, but you can teach them how to respond in situations. I use www.commonsensemedia.org regularly for lessons and tips.
2. You cannot control everything, BUT you can monitor closely! I stumbled across this great resource. http://www.omgchrome.com/a-parents-guide-to-supervised-users/
Call this control or whatever you want, but I call it smart and the perfect answer for this mom of an 8 year old baby girl who likes to research because she is curious about life! It allows me to monitor her searching, restrict certain sites if needed, while letting her have the freedom of searching and growing as a responsible digital citizen.
I plan to hold tight to my beliefs on the importance of:
1. being present with students as they are learning how to search the worldwide web effectively.
2. teaching students how to act responsibly when things do pop up.
3. educating students how to be media literate and how to evaluate sites and resources.