Friday, March 27, 2009

Cyber Safety Mentors from the Greater Eggleston High School

Two weeks ago, the BPS Cybersafety Team was asked to present to the Greater Eggleston High School students as a part of their Health and Wellness Day at the school. The school lined up organizations to present on various issues of health and asked us to talk with their students about cyberbullying. So the team put together an hour long presentation for high school students about the different types of cyberbullying and strategies to avoid it. After the presentation, the students were encouraged to comment, ask questions, discuss what they just learned. The biggest response came when Felicia Vargas asked the group of students who would be interested in becoming a cybersafety mentor. The Greater Eggleston has a community service component in their curriculum and a lot of students expressed interest in becoming internet safety certified and teaching elementary school students about cybersafety strategies.

So this morning, three of those students came up to the offices of OIIT to become internet safety certified. They watched the videos from the iSAFE cybermentor certification program and we discussed the most important cybersafety strategies to teach elementary school students. Here were some of their ideas:

The students were quick to point out that the strategies to deal with cyberpredators were common sense things that a lot of teenagers already know, however, it is important for middle and elementary school students to understand that people sometimes misrepresent themselves online and try to take advantage of you.

On the topic of cyberbullying, the Eggleston mentors felt that it was important that students understand the consequences of their actions if they decide to be bullies. The consequences they have on their victims as well as the consequences they may face in school. They would also like to teach the students who are victims of cyberbullying to tell someone what is happening to them. They feel it is important that kids have someone who they trust to talk to and tell them if people are bullying them.

On the topic of Cybersecurity, the mentors felt that younger students need to learn how to be proactive when it comes to keeping their computers free of malware, instead of being reactive. One student said that she thinks most people don't learn about things like viruses and worms until they already have one on their computer and have to get it fixed. The solution they have is to teach students three important points about cybersecurity. First, they need to learn about what viruses, trojan horses and other malware are. Second, they need to understand how these things can affect their computers and third, they need to learn how to prevent malware from getting on their computers.

There were a lot more points that the cybermentors discussed this morning. They understood that their role in teaching internet safety strategies to elementary aged students is a very important one and all of them said that they felt that they were up to the challenge. They really want to bring their own experiences and real life examples into the classroom with them when they go out and teach those students. The next steps for them will be to go through some presentation skills training and practice what activities and lessons they will be using to teach students about staying safe online.

No comments: