By Melissa Ford
Sarah Migas, Internet Safety Specialist in Attorney General Lisa Madgan’s High Tech Crimes Bureau, educates students and parents about digital citizenship. She travels throughout Illinois offering FREE internet safety presentations. Recently, Sarah was at Rhodes School in River Grove, where I attended one of her programs. Sarah is a font of information with an easy manner as she interacts with her audience. One of Sarah’s biggest messages to parents? Even though our kids may be adept at navigating Facebook, texting, or surfing the net - it’s still our responsibility to educate our children to be good digital citizens. How do we do that?
(1) Visit two websites chock full of information:
http://www.illinoisattorneygeneral.gov/children/internet.html is loaded with useful information from a webinar on digital citizenship to internet safety training modules for Grades 3-12
http://illinoisattorneygeneral.gov/cyberbullying/ provides resources and advice on cyberbullying.
(2) Understand that social networks are NOT private and anything posted on those sites is public regardless of your security settings. Your “digital friends” can pass on anything you post.
(3) Be clear about who your “friends” are online and how well you know them. Your activity online is the story you tell about yourself. Think before you post!
(4) Begin teaching your child about boundaries, making smart choices, and how to treat others (online and in person).
When should we start? Sarah says, “Parents should begin digital citizenship education when their child first begins going online starting as early as Kindergarten.”
Who can help? Our schools can support our efforts in educating ourselves and our kids. So, parents, PTO presidents and school principals, let’s bring Sarah into our schools so that we are clear about the power of digital technology and how best to guide our children in a digital world.