Thinking back to my time in high school, I can’t recall a lot of PSAs or lessons regarding cyber safety in school. My learnings came from more of the Milieu (Shwab’s Common Places), wherein teachers, parents, and peers stressed the importance of having caution towards your presence online.
I recall when Instagram and Snapchat were very popular apps when I reached grade 7. It took a lot to convince my mom to let me download the applications. Her fear was my exposure to the cyber world, and she worried about how I was putting myself out there on a social media platform. I remember seeing posters warning students about the implications and dangers that follow you, like the one below.
Something that comes to mind immediately when I hear the term ‘cyber safety’ is the movie Cyberbully. The movie came out in 2011, and I remember it being my first time understanding just how harmful and dangerous the internet can be. It was the fear that was instilled through the cyberbullying, as well as the empathy that was gained for the main character. To reach students, it is important to know your crowd and understand what they value in order to give meaning and context to the important lesson involved. It was the fear of social media that ensured I was using it responsibly.
Cyber safety is a significant topic for students to learn about, especially at a young age, along with the uprise in different social media tools and applications. Some ways to encourage positive conversations about the topic while still stressing safety include:
- Student-led conversations and discussions – get to know your students, learn what they know and what they don’t about their digital footprint
- Ask questions
- Suggest online safety tools and resources
- Guest speakers and assemblies – students look forward to these, encouraged to bring in speakers and topics that will discuss cyber safety
- Dedicate lessons to the topic