I recently read a post by Will Richardson which referenced the 2008 National Cyber Security Alliance’s Baseline Study on Cyber Security, Ethics, and Safety. I was shocked to find out that less than 25 percent of teachers feel comfortable talking to their students about these types of Internet Safety topics. Why? I’m thinking it’s something along the lines of not wanting to have “The Talk” with your kids. So many parents fear that discussion as well, although again I wonder why. I think parents and teachers are afraid to broach uncomfortable subjects with kids. I tend to think that many parents these days try to protect their children from any discomfort, which I think is horribly wrong, but more on that another time.
So I read the full report to find out what teachers are saying about why they feel unprepared to discuss this topic, and basically their responses are either “It’s not my problem, ask the IT guy,” or “I don’t understand this myself, so how can I teach my students?” or “Stop giving me more things to teach my students, I’m already overwhelmed!!!” (Ummm, those are paraphrased, by the way…) First, I have to say that I totally understand where they are coming from. Teaching is an extremely difficult profession, and teachers get nowhere near the respect (and pay!) they deserve! So now you add Cyber Safety to the mountain of other subjects that teachers have to be trained in, so they can properly educate their students, in addition to all those ridiculous tests (oh, don’t get me started on tests…), and no wonder we are overwhelmed.
But I think what the teachers who don’t feel comfortable with this topic don’t realize is that Internet Safety is not just something we have to teach our students, it’s something we ALL need to know about. Just as someone else said, we don’t think twice about teaching our children to look before they cross the street! The Internet is here to stay. It is part of our world. And if you are going to use a computer, then you should know what to look out for, so you can stay safe. It’s not hard to find the information you need to get informed. Ask a friend, look up Internet Safety on the Internet(!), invite your IT guy to come explain to the class how he keeps them safe every day (a new superhero!) We can’t be afraid that we will scare our students, or rub their parents the wrong way by teaching them about the dangers that are out there in Cyberspace. Wouldn’t we rather be safe than sorry?