In a time where many people post their every movement on social media, Fort Smith Public Schools are trying to teach students how to be safe in the digital age.
According to the Morgan Nick Foundation, social media has the biggest impact on children going missing and getting caught up in sex trafficking.
The Morgan Nick Foundation also stated that 1-in-7 students either bully or have been bullied. The same report stated that 35% of students have been threatened online.
The danger of cyberspace can be stopped in the home. The Morgan Nick Foundation put out suggestions for keeping kids safe in the home which included keeping the family computer in a public space and making sure parents know what applications children are downloading.
Two main concerns about phone applications in this document are the fact that parents do not know what is being sent and received in the private messaging of the application as well as the fact that children will be exposed to inappropriate content when other people are involved.
Solutions provided in this document include parents regularly check their children’s phones and posts to make sure what they are posting and viewing is age appropriate. Another solution is to have a single charging station for all devices so that time on the device is limited.
FSPS works with parents and the Morgan Nick Foundation to make sure kids are safe when they are online.
On all school-issued devices, there are firewalls and safeguards to limit what websites students are able to access. However, the district relies on parents to keep watch on the students when they are at home.
For K-6 students, elementary students learn through several platforms about internet safety, these include NearPod, BrainPop and Netsmartz. NearPod is also used in junior and senior high settings to use lesson plans to provide instructional and safety information.
NearPod, BrainPop and Netsmartz all use videos to teach kids about internet safety and how to proceed with caution on the internet.
Four main rules from FSPS:
Check First...Before going anywhere, accepting anything or helping someone.
Tell People NO...If someone makes you feel bad, scared, confused or uncomfortable
Take a Friend...Don’t go places by yourself. Take a friend or trusted adult.
Tell a Trusted Adult if something happens.
Both FSPS and the Morgan Nick Foundation emphasize education as vital in protecting children against the dangerous side of the internet.