Over the past 10 years, I have had the pleasure of speaking to parents at numerous schools about Internet safety. Whether it’s a private school, public school or religiously affiliated school the one thing I have found they have in common is that they have all had some sort of Internet safety program. Often it consists of an “Internet Usage Policy” that is sent home with your child at the beginning of the school year, and your child has to agree to it by signing it and turning it into the school. It details what the school deems as inappropriate usage of the Internet and lists what the consequences are if the policy is violated.
As a side note, I think parents should have an “Internet Usage Policy” for their home. That way the kids know what the parents think is inappropriate Internet usage and clearly understand what the consequences are if they violate the policy. This helps get ride of the “Well I didn’t know” response parents sometime get from their kids.
A schools “Internet Usage Policy” is a good start, but I do not believe it is enough. I think schools need to go beyond a policy and put safeguards in place so the policy can’t be accidently violated. For example, I was at a school that had an “Internet Usage Policy” and was a staunch advocate of keeping Internet porn away from their students. But a policy that says “viewing porn on a school computer is inappropriate” isn’t enough. One day I was in one of the classrooms at the school that had computers throughout the room. The students were doing a project for Valentines Day and needed to get pictures for their project. One student was on Google images and typed in “Valentines”. One of the pictures that came up on the screen was a close up of a naked woman’s vagina. The schools “Internet Usage Policy” did nothing to prevent this from happening. It was accidental. What the school needed in place was Internet filtering software to prevent this type of thing.
So parents do you know what kind of Internet safety program your child’s school has? Is it more than just rules on paper or do they actually have safeguards in place like an Internet filter that helps enforce the rules? If you don’t know you should find out.