Monday, November 23, 2009

'Tis the Season for Cyber Safety

With the holiday season upon us, a lot of cybersecurity blogs and websites are publishing strategies for people to utilize in order to stay safe online. As more people are using the internet to shop during the months of November and December, there are a lot of scams out there designed to steal your personal financial information. Here are some helpful articles with tips that you can use to keep your identity and other data safe online.
  • This article from is about how you can recognize and avoid phishing e-mails. Phishing attcks attempt to trick a person into giving up their personal information such as bank account passwords and credit card numbers. Phishing emails can sometimes be hard to spot, so it is important to know what to look for.
  • Computerworld security offers a look at five things that people do to put themselves at risk to hackers and other online criminals.
  • OnGuard Online , a site maintained by the Federal Trade Commission, has a helpful tip guide for shopping online anytime throughout the year.
  • Internet security company, McAfee, is warning users of the "12 Scams of Christmas" in this article posted by
The internet is a fantastic way to keep in touch with family and friends during the holidays. It is also great for avoiding the mall crowds by shopping from the comfort of your own home, just remember to follow the safety guidelines that were published in the above articles. Have a safe and Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

State Lawmakers Discuss Bills on Bullying Crackdown

Eric Esteves, of OIIT TechBoston, passed along this recent Boston Globe article about a number of bills scheduled for hearings this week that would crack down on bullying among schoolchildren. The article describes some real life examples of bullying and cyberbullying experiences from Massachusetts teenagers. With the rise in high profile bullying cases, most notably the suicide of an 11 year old Springfield boy earlier this year, supporters of the bills believe that anti-bullying legislation will be passed. Approximately 37 other states have already passed bullying prevention statutes.

Friday, November 13, 2009

What are You Doing about Bullying?

The UK government recently released a study of 10,000 teenagers that states 47% have experienced some sort of bullying. The most common form of bullying that they faced was name calling and cyberbullying. The age in which bullying is the most prevalent, according to the study, is 14. The National Crime Prevention Council here in the United States has published similar statistics. Their website states that 43% of students they surveyed have experienced some type of cyberbullying. It is important to teach students strategies on how to deal with cyberbullies. First, the victims need to talk about it with someone. Of the 43% of students surveyed by the National Crime Prevention Council, only 11% talked to their parents about incidents of cyberbullying. The recent UK study found that the students of parents who reported bullying, were less likely to be bullied in the future.

There are many resources for teachers and parents to help students learn strategies to prevent and deal with cyberbullying. The Seattle Public Schools created an entire curriculum about cyberbullying. The National Crime Prevention Council also has many resources on their website to help parents and teachers learn more about cyberbullying prevention. You can also read past posts on cyberbullying with links to resources here in the BPS Internet Safety Blog.

There are some school based activities happening here in the Boston Public Schools surrounding cyberbullying. Mike Gavin, a teacher at the Harbor School, is teaching his eighth grade students about cyberbullying and cyberstalking. The students are in the process of creating blogs and using those blogs to communicate safe internet strategies. Way to go Mr. Gavin! We look forward to reading what the students have to say about cyberbullying and learning from them.

Friday, November 6, 2009

How far can a school go in punishing students for online behavior?

This is a good article to print out and use in your classroom to generate discussions with your students about online behavior. I first saw a link to this article while reading Net Family News, a great place to go for internet safety news and resources.

The Washington Post ran a very interesting article this week in which two Indiana high school students were disciplined for posting photos of themselves on MySpace that were deemed inappropriate by the school. The two female students were banned from extracurricular activities and forced to apologize to a panel of coaches as punishment. The ACLU has stepped in on behalf of the students and is suing the school for violating the students' rights to freedom of speech. They contend that the pictures were taken during a sleepover in the summer and has had no disruptive effect inside of school.

This is a very interesting debate and discussion that you can have with the students in your classroom. What do your students think about this punishment? What are their arguments to back up their position? What could the students in this situation and the school have done differently to avoid this situation?

Another important aspect of this article to note is that the girls who posted the photos of themselves set their pictures with privacy settings so that only their friends were able to see them, not the general public. However, these pictures were copied, printed and got into the hands of school officials somehow. It is so important to stress that nothing you put online should be considered 100% private.