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  • Last modified 21 days ago (Nov. 1, 2017)

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Schools tackle online safety

Staff writer

As the world we live in changes, so do the learning needs of students.

Today’s technology-savvy students are frequently online, between computers, gaming machines, and smart phones. That can expose them to cyberbullying, inappropriate material, and online predators, district curriculum director for Peabody-Burns schools Kathy Preheim said.

That’s why it’s important they know what to do if something makes them uncomfortable, she said.

“It’s really easy for the students to get on the computer,” Preheim said. “It’s important to know when to close the screen and report it to an adult.”

Netsmartz, a program developed by National Center for Exploited and Missing Children, is the tool Preheim uses in teaching students about Internet safety.

“Also we talk about cyberbullying and how to avoid that,” she said.

She emphasizes telling a trusted adult if they are uncomfortable with something someone does or sends to them, or with anything that pops up on their screen.

Preheim said she presents assembly-style classes aimed at teaching youngsters Internet safety basics.

Sandy Arnold, librarian at Hillsboro Elementary School, concurs.

“We talk about if somebody does try to contact you or ask you for things they shouldn’t, please tell an adult,” Arnold said.

Students should tell an adult about it even if they knew they were somewhere they shouldn’t have been, and they might get in trouble.

“It’s better to tell someone and get into a little bit of trouble than get into a lot of trouble,” Arnold said.

Arnold said she teaches different Internet safety rules to different ages of students.

“We don’t do as much with younger kids,” Arnold said.

Fourth- and fifth-graders are given more formalized instruction.

“We talk about all kinds of things from online safety to if someone enters a game you’re playing, not giving information, not giving out your password,” Arnold said. “Being careful of all the pop-ups that come up on the screen.”

She also teaches them to avoid talking to strangers in online chat rooms.

“Especially if that person suggests meeting,” Arnold said. “We talk about also the things you post. We talk about what you should post on social media and what you shouldn’t.”

Arnold offers tips for parents as well. She suggests parents pay attention to what sites their children use, discuss whether they need social media accounts and monitor the accounts if they have them.

“People think it can’t happen to them,” Arnold said.

Last modified Nov. 1, 2017

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