Online safety is something everyone needs to know about. Younger students may not have the ability to publish things online, but the age at which they are capable of doing this is constantly decreasing. Talking about the dangers of using technology should not result in avoidance or fear, but in an understanding of our individual responsibilities as well as how to protect our families, schools and other social groups.
We want students to be confident, competent creators of digital work. Avoiding risky situations isn’t hard if you know what to look out for and the ability to quickly recover from accidents should give us the confidence to bounce back when problems inevitably occur.
The internet is an amazing array of technology that is more accessible than ever. Publishing work to a worldwide audience used to take months or years when it was in the form of physical books – not to mention the cost and limited opportunities. Now anyone with a smart phone has a potential audience of billions within mere hours. It shouldn’t make us fearful, but we should certainly know when to be cautious.
Google has created an excellent resource called ‘Be Internet Awesome‘ that I’ve used in the classrooms to talk about several online safety issues. These are:
- Don’t fall for fake – Identity theft, phishing, credible sources, bots
- Secure your secrets – Password security
- It’s cool to be kind – Standing up for others, online bullying
- Share with care – Communicate responsibly, respecting privacy, social media
- When in doubt talk it out – Resolving and reporting
Each of the above areas has a fun activity that provides some context to talk through the above topics within a fictional world called Interland (pictured above). Each area also has a quiz at the end, a points system and a certificate. No accounts are required to use Interland, but that also means that it does not store any progress.
It’s cool to be kind
This area is the most generic and I have used it for students in year 1 (6yo) and older. The key point is to stand up for others in the battle against online bullying. Being kind is also what we want students to practice in the classroom and playground too so this is not limited to online interactions. Click the picture below to go straight to Kind Kingdom:
Younger students sometimes have trouble jumping across large gaps or diagonally. I’ve helped many of them master this skill in class but it can cause some frustration. There are 3 tricks:
- The diagonal jump – for this you have to move into position, stop and then press and hold a left/right arrow AND the up arrow together. It will take some practice and you have to release both buttons once you make the jump otherwise it may jump again.
- The running jump – this is similar to the first one, but when you are holding the left/right button you press the jump button once – this has to be timed right if you are crossing large gaps. You need to release the left/right button at the right time too otherwise you may jump too far!
- The jumping run – sometimes you need to jump up from a stationary position and then move slightly left or right. To do this you hold the up button and at the top of the jump you then press the left/right arrow.
The quiz at the end will be difficult for younger students so they can either skip it or will need to be assisted with reading the questions and possible answers.
You can get a personalised certificate at the end. I’m not sure if there’s a pass mark to obtain the certificate. The questions may also change so if you repeat the same area you might not get the same set of questions.
Secure your secrets
Password security can be explained to students around 7 years old (year 2) and older. I have usually organised for the year 2 students to get their individual logins for use on school computers. The irony is that they usually all have the same password to simplify things in the classroom. This situation doesn’t usually change until year 4 so it is a good example of what ‘not to do’ for me to talk about in class. Of course, there’s not much to secure on our school accounts as we don’t actually use it for much – no email, no submission of work, no personal details – basically nothing. Click the image below to go straight to the Tower of Treasure.
The first game is a bit tricky as it involves a bit of timing and fast thinking. Some younger students need a bit of help getting through it.
Eventually, they should be able to collect all of the objects and make it through to the final level.
This is where it gets a bit challenging. The green characters are hackers trying to access your secrets by guessing your passwords. Each tower represents an account they are trying to access. The towers all start with weak passwords and there’s an indicator on each one to show you how secure they are. Green is good, red is bad. There’s also some time pressure as the hackers will focus on a particular tower so you should strengthen those ones first.
Joining two words together is a much stronger password than a normal word, but it could be even stronger.
There’s only one famous kangaroo that I know of – Skippy! Oh and there’s also the grumpy one from Seussical. The only downside is that you have to remember which letters are upper-case. Usually you would make the first letter of the word a capital, but you don’t have to.
In the end you have to strike a good balance between the strength of a password and how easy it is to remember. Using a good password manager is ideal as you can don’t have to remember them, but you still have to remember the password to access the password manager. Remember one password is much easier than trying to remember many and much safer than using weak passwords or the same password for all your accounts.