Chances are you clicked on this article to find out about Internet and social media safety and the steps you can take to keep your students safe.
Either that, or you were looking for funny cat videos on YouTube and got horribly lost. We won't take offense if you click out of this window. Cat videos are purrty pawsome.
But if our meowgnifurcent puns have captured your attention, and you find yourself wanting to learn more about digital safety, then we've got a quick question for you:
Who are we?
Sure, you could take an educated guess. You could say, "you're Shmoop. Probably a group of people with a background in education, and probably people who understand the basics of digital safety." And chances are, you'd get pretty close.
But the fact of the matter is, you don't know who we are. Maybe we're exactly how we bill ourselves on our site—you know, the crème de la crème of education (and we should really tack "super modest and humble" in there too somewhere). Or maybe we're actually incredibly well-trained chickens, slowly pecking out every word, all the while planning our eventual revolt and uprising against––
––uh, no. We mean. We're humans. What?
The important thing here is, we could be anybawky.
So, back to the subject at hand. Yes, the Internet offers some amazing things (we're looking at you, sneezing panda baby), and yes, your students have probably been coding since they were in diapers and will scoff at your attempts to teach them anything Internet-related.
But even if nine out of ten students know how to stay safe online, knowing the ins and outs of Internet and social media safety might help that one student who's being cyberbullied.
And that? That feels really clawsome.
We promise, if you stick with us for a minute, we'll recommend a good cat video for you at the end.
So what can you do to keep your students safe from Creepy Carl?
Well, first, remind them never to give out personal information online.
Then, remind them never to give out personal information online.
Nope, no echo in here. It's just that important.
When your students broadcast their private information to the world, it leaves them vulnerable to all sorts of dangers.
Maybe they proudly post a picture of their new credit card, then check their account balance the next day to find it completely wiped out…
Maybe they post a picture in front of their house captioned "Cabo for two weeks!" and then come back to find their home ransacked and their possessions gone.
Or maybe they post their cell phone number online and start receiving creepy voicemails at 3:00AM from an unknown number.
Basically, the less information they supply online, the safer they'll be. After all, Creepy Carl can't ask for selfies if he doesn't have access to their username. We know all this seems pretty obvious in this day and age, but hey, it doesn't hurt to hammer it in early and from as many angles as possible.
And speaking of Creepy Carl, don't let him worm his way into your student's life in the first place. Sure, it might be cool to have fifteen billion Facebook friends, but if your students are adding people they don't know, they're raising their risk of interacting with a Carl.
Before we go, here's one last big one.
Remind your students that everything they put on a social networking site is permanent. Seriously. All those "I <3 Justin Bieber" posts from way back when? Those still exist. And even if they delete photos from Facebook, they'll never know if Creepy Carl has already taken a screenshot and saved it for his personal viewing pleasure.
As long as your students know most of these tips, they shouldn't have any issues staying safe online.
Want more digital literacy goodness? Check out our online course and teaching guides to get the dirt on all you've ever wanted to know.