Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Cost of Staying Safe

Our District just purchased a New Toy. It's an online Internet safety program, complete with lessons, resources, etc., etc. etc., and it purports to give students "dynamic, interactive, up-to-date Internet safety curriculum lessons online, in the classroom, and in the community." We have no idea how much it cost (we have a gi-GEN-dous school system--somethiing like 165,000+ Cherubs), but probably a pretty penny. The School District, along with the rest of the Universe, has finally latched on to Internet Security--almost a decade too late.

Yes, the Internet is a scary place. Everyone--except those Living Under a Rock at the Bottom of the Sea--knows that Missouri Mom Lori Drew was just indicted in the death of 13-year-old Megan Meier. Megan killed herself after Drew employed the help of another kiddo to concoct a fake MySpace identity & basically stalk the fragile teen. And after Drew's fake online identity--a 16-year-old cyber-"hunk" named Josh--dumped on Megan online, the little girl killed herself--a tragic ending to a sad, sad story. Drew was indicted in LA under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

Internet Security is a HUGE concern--especially among parents with teens & tweens--and has been for some time. Far be it from Your Humble Scribe to criticize the School District for trying to keep its Cherubs safe. But the Internet Security training program that they just purchased--which involves teachers watching a series of videos online & then printing out a certificate that exclaims that we are "Certified"--is a tad sketch, as Our Cherubs would say. The videos contain lots & lots of helpful definitions--one can learn about "screen names," "Internet slang," & "online predators." And, since the "course" includes watching the videos but not taking any kind of test after the viewing, one can turn on a required video, then walk away & come back later--it's the ultimate multi-tasking scenario.

So, we watched our videos, made dinner, folded the laundry, yelled at Ella Numera Dos, commiserated with The Hubby, put the leftovers away, tapped on the keyboard for another video, etc. All. Nite. Long. And we printed out our "Certificate" this a.m. The Cherubs at Our Humble High School probably won't be any safer for our efforts--or lack thereof. We do think, however, that Internet Safety is a convo we all should be having with the teenyboppers in our lives. Fo Shizzle. LOL.


loonyhiker said...

As educators, we should be modeling internet safety actions and have students actively using safe actions while engaged in learning. Telling them about it and giving them a certificate sounds like such a waste of taxpayers' money.

Mike said...

Sad. The level of paranoia over social networking is out of control - another example of the adult fetish for demonizing anything in which kids show an interest.

What I know about internet security I know as a result of setting up and using my own facebook account, keeping a blog, and doing research on the actual incidence of predatory behavior and patterns of teen use (Pew Internet is a great source of information on the latter). I think all teachers, administrators, and parents should sign up for Facebook just so they can see firsthand what's involved and not sound so silly the next time they try to explain why it (and services like it) should be banned.

Anonymous said...

internet "security" schemes are a way of not knowing reality, not knowing how to be intelligent and discerning. It is like the rating system for music recordings and movies. it leads to the commerical "Disneyfication" of services. Now persons are enouraged to pay for "internet watch / filtering services" to install on their Monopoly business model Microsoft computers and also pay for "virus protection" to keep the same computers working.
For starters, please look up free-open source software and the Linux operating system, which is no cost and does not require virus protection because it is not a junk architecture like MS Windoze.

Secondly, teaching how to be safe with technology is no different than teaching how to be safe in the rest of society: telephone use, driving, being out in public and stay away from strangers. What is so difficult about this? Computers are machines, nothing more. You make them do things and hopefully, you demand performance and value, neighther which are delivered by Microsoft and the "protection" schemes are limited to their one operating system. It truly is a big world out there. For USA to be intelligent and effective, what is required is a "capable" approach, not one based in fear and ignorance followed by victimhood, sorrow, and complaint.


Blog Widget by LinkWithin