Beyond Classroom Tech Tips…

May 24, 2007

More Online Safety Info

Filed under: Uncategorized — Donna DesRoches @ 3:55 pm

Yesterday I received a comment on my post about online safety information for parents from Sylvia. She provides a link to her post which provides an excellent list about what to scan for when looking a your children/students’ social networking site:

I regularly monitor my own childrens’ MySpace page. My 17 and 15 year old have added me as their friend on their private profiles, while my 13 year old does NOT have an account. While I do not read their messages, I do scan over the general tone on the page. I have also been asked several times by parents of friends and students of mine to check their blog or web page out to see if I could spot a safety issue.

Here are the things I scan the page for:

  1. No first and last name
  2. Don’t give away your geographical location (city)
  3. Don’t give away school name
  4. Possible double or direct meaning of screen name
  5. Overall tone of page
    1. Cuss words
    2. Sexual
    3. Racist
    4. Hate words
    5. Threats
    6. Bullying
    7. Violence
    8. Offensive
    9. threatening
  6. Photos
    1. sexual
    2. provocative
    3. age inappropriate
    4. identifiable school uniform or school shirts
    5. doing something illegal (or pretending)
    6. photo resolution (the higher the resolution, the easier and with better results it can be manipulated/photoshoped)
    7. bullying (negative comments)
  7. Interest and Personality Details
    1. How detailed? Could feed all the information to someone who is “grooming” the child.
  8. Posting of sports team and competitions
  9. Posting of cell phone numbers or AIM screen names
  10. Posting of friends’ personal information
  11. Friends List
    1. Do you know them personally? All of them?
    2. Do you have bands added? (Loss of “private profile” control)
    3. Do your friends keep your personal information safe?

May 22, 2007

Books, Books, Books…

Filed under: books,LibraryThing — Donna DesRoches @ 10:52 pm

brainfriendly.jpgYes, I may be into info on the web but I have started a collection of books about technology, school libraries, information literacy, andblogswikispodcasts.jpg leadership and economic changes that have appeared as a result of new technologies. You can see these books which are available for loan to school division personnel at LibraryThing.

Online Safety: Parent Information

Filed under: Cyberbulling,Instant Messaging,Privacy,Safety,Social Networking — Donna DesRoches @ 2:21 pm

The computer is a door to the world, but also a door to your home.

It is difficult sometimes for parents to understand how their children use the internet. Most adults use the internet to email, look-up info, seek news while their kids chat, play games, share music and pictures, watch and share video, share files. Parents often feel confused, a bit incompetent and uncertain about how to ensure that their children are safe in the online environment.

Parents play an important role in helping their children use the internet safely. Parents can help their child develop the ‘filter between their ears’. Children will find ways to access the internet… the library, from a friend’s house… so it is important they learn early how to be safe online. It is never to soon to talk about online safety. Begin the moment a child has his or her hands on a computer – talk gently… not scary.

The first thing to do is to become aware of what the actual concerns and possible dangers are that kids might face when they are online.

The following are some useful resources:
Parenting the Net Generation: A PowerPoint Presentation from Canadian Home and School Federation and Media Awareness Network. It is a great resource designed to educate parents about what kids do on the Internet and offer strategies for ensuring safe, wise and responsible Internet use in the home.
Netzsmarts: Great resources including videos and lessons for parents, teachers kids and teens.
SafeKids your family’s guide for making the internet and technology safe, fun and productive.
Profile of a teen online victim: This article illustrates the characteristics and actions that create a victim… and its not always what we think.
Cyber-safe Kids. Cyber-savvy Teens: resources and free booklets for parents.

There are two main internet communication tools that cause parents some concerns: Social Networking sites such as Bebo, Hi5, MySpace and FaceBook and instant messaging such as MSN Messenger.

What is Social Networking?

bebo.gifA social networking site is an online place where a user can create a profile and build a personal network that connects him or her to other users. In the past five years, such sites have rocketed into a phenomenon that engages tens of millions ofmyspace.jpg hi5.gifinternet users. More than half (55%) of all online teenagers ages 12-17 use online social networking sites, according to a new national survey of teenagers conducted by the Pew Internet & American Life Project.

The survey also finds that older teens, particularly girls, are more likely to use these sites. For girls, social networking sites are primarily places to reinforce friendships they already have; for boys, the networks also provide opportunities for flirting and making new friends.

What Parents Can Do:


  1. Do an internet search for your child. Put their full name within quotation marks, e.g. “Donna Desroches”. Try Vivisimo. a clustering meta-search engine where all the archived conversations in which your child has used a particular screen name will be found. Searching for their name in google will find their social networking website. If the site is public you will be able to view it. You will also be able to find out what others are saying about your child on their sites. Don’t try to catch your kids but ask to see their site. Tell them you will be viewing their online world to see that it is safe. Talk to them about what is safe. Give them 48 hours to go and tear down all that may be unsafe and then sit down and view it with them.
  2. Join the networking site that your child uses. If their profile is private you will not be able to see it unless you register with the site. You don’t have to put anything in it but you can explore it to understand how it works. Once you have logged-in you can search within the site for your child’s name, locate their profile and view it.
  3. Read the safety tips provided at the social networking site your child uses: e.g. Bebo Safety Tips and Hi5 Online Safety.
  4. Recently I listened to a podcast by Kevin Honeycutt, Building 21st Century Achievers, in which he suggested that parents informally create an Online Neighborhood Watch. When you are viewing your child’s page and you see something odd or unusual about their friend’s activities notify their parents. Look out for each other’s kids.

Instant Messaging
According to a 2001 study by the Media Awareness Network, 56 percent of kids aged nine to 17 use instant messaging (IM). Instant messages allow conversations in real time, unlike e-mail and several people can exchange messages in one conversation — rather like an online conference call.

What Parents Can Do:

  1. When your kids register for instant messaging software, sit with them and together make the choices about the how the program will be set up.
  2. Discourage them from filling out the “personal profile”—this information is made available to other users, so young children should never use this option. Help your child chooses a non-identifiable, non-gender specific screen name and remind them to keep it clean! Tell them to never to share their IM user names and passwords with others, online or in the non-virtual world.
  3. Make sure their authorization is required before anyone adds them to an IM list.
  4. Ensure the software is configured so that each conversation is saved.

More Instant Messaging Safety tips are available at

Basic Internet Monitoring Tips:

  1. Explain to your child that their Internet activity will be monitored. Your child should have no expectation of privacy on the computer. Regularly view the browser’s history to see where you child has gone on the Internet.
  2. Closely supervise and monitor your child while on the Internet. Keep the computer in a public area of the home so that it is clearly visible.
  3. Be aware of when your child is sending pictures. Closely monitor the use of webcams, digital cameras and cellular phones.

What goes on the internet stays on the internet!
Help your child understand that information that is posted on the internet never really goes away. This short video helps explain the permanence of pictures and information placed online.

Think Before You Post

What you put online could impact on your job and career future

MySpace Job Search Video

Most parents are ‘digital immigrants’. Ask your child to help you understand the digital environment that they operate in. Talk to them about it and openly express your concerns.

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