Saturday, July 31, 2010

Internet Safety

I have two children begging me for an e-mail and facebook account. They research schoolwork on the internet. One looks at sports online. All of my children like internet based game sites.

We have guided our kids to "good" web sites. We've set limits and boundaries. And still, despite our efforts and monitoring, we've seen a child go to an area thought "safe" which was not, and we spent time and money cleaning up a virus. We installed even more protection software. We still talk to them about safety.

When Jossey-Bass Teacher offered me two books on internet safety to review, I did not have to think about my answer. YES, please!

Jossey-Bass Teacher has published two brand new books for parents and teachers about internet safety - one book targets the K-8 crowd; the other targets grades 9-12.

iSAFE Internet Safety Activities and iSAFE Internet Life Skills Activities

Both books contain reproducible projects for use at home for homeschoolers or for school-building schoolers who supplement at home; at school; homeschool co-op; even church (would make a neat short-term youth study, I think, although it certainly isn't Biblical or religious in any way. When we were teens, one weeknight each week, our youth group from church met at the home of one of the group with our leaders to talk about topics relevant to teens.). Each book is priced at $29.95. Both books are designed to lie flat on a photocopy machine for easy copying.

I had no idea what to expect, exactly. I'm impressed. Based on my experience as a mom, I think that the authors know how to introduce sensitive material to different age groups in developmentally appropriate ways.

The standards in the book for younger children come from the National Educational Technology Standards for Students (NET-S): TheNext Generation Standards 1, 2, 4, 5, and 6.

The book for younger students, which includes a teacher's guide introduces students to the internet with a chapter on safety and covers internet searching ("safari"), cyber-bullying, managing personal information online, approaching strangers online, and "Cyber Citizenship and Netiquette Sense" in a progression that has younger children learning the earlier topics and older children learning the latter topics. There are activity pages for the students to complete and activities to do on the computer.

The book for high schoolers also includes a teacher's guide and covers internet shopping, banking, research, and computer security; interacting with others in social and gaming settings online; search skills, job hunting, money management, income taxes; online forms, communication basics, safety considerations when working wireless, and public wireles access considerations; and issues that center around college and continuing education. It raises a lot of issues I haven't discussed with my kids yet, and I would consider using this one with students as young as 5th or 6th grade. (One of my kids sometimes asks for permission to buy something online. I keep hoping that enough no's will extinguish the issue, but so far, it has not. Now is the time to go over some of this material.)

If you're looking for a ready-made internet safety product, consider one of these books. The book for younger students is designed to be used over several years. The lessons in the front of the book are written toward a younger audience. In my opinion, the book for high schoolers can be used from start to finish with any one age group in that grade range, although parts of it are appropriate for children a bit younger. Some of the book for older students will more appeal to high schoolers preparing for life after graduation and may not seem relevant to freshmen and sophomores. They thought of topics I hadn't yet. Maybe you'll experience that, too, when you see the books.

Jossey-Bass Teacher sent me two books at no charge to me, iSAFE Internet Safety Activities and iSAFE Internet Life Skills Activities to review. I receive no other compensation for reviews and am not obligated to produce a positive review.

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