One of the best movies of all time (okay . . . maybe top 100) has got to be A Christmas Story. You remember . . . a kid wants a “Red Ryder carbine-action, two hundred shot Range Model air rifle BB gun with a compass in the stock and a thing which tells time” for Christmas and spends the majority of the movie working to convince his parents to get it for him.
Of course, his mom is having none of it. Even the department store Santa Claus turns him down.
You’ll shoot your eye out, kid!
We all remember warnings from our parents. And it wasn’t just BB guns.
- Don’t run with scissors.
- Be home by eleven.
- Money doesn’t grow on trees.
- Don’t cross your eyes or they’ll stick that way.
- Put that down, you don’t know where it’s been!
Some of this parental “wisdom” has become more useful than others. A few of us were sitting around the other day discussing the best way to introduce the concept of online safety to elementary students.
In thirty minutes. Without internet access.
So we came up with the idea of polishing off some of the old parental chestnuts and updating them for 2008.
Don’t talk to strangers
- This one’s been around forever. What better way to begin a conversation about online safety is to repeat for the kids something that have been hearing since they can remember. Pretty basic . . . be careful who you talk with online. Drop down menus of conversation snippets used by Club Penguin or Toontown are probably okay. Never share personal information online.
Don’t take candy for strangers
- An extra stranger danger warning we’ve all heard before. Online translation? Don’t accept files and don’t open attachments from people you don’t know.
Come straight home after school
- It was always easy to get distracted walking home from school. You might end up at friend’s house or you might end downtown where you don’t belong. My Mom always needed to know where I was at. As a parent of a 15 year old who’s driving, I finally get it. It’s the same online. You can end up in some bad places if you take too many detours. Using appropriate search tools like Nettrekker, KidsClick, 42explore or ThinkFinity and providing hot lists through Google Docs or Delicious can help keep kids in the right parts of town.
Don’t be a bully
- Don’t call people names online. Don’t spam social networks. Don’t post pictures of others without their permission. Don’t talk about others “behind their back” in chat rooms. Many schools around the country are putting anti-bullying policies into practice. We can tap into that.
We’d like to meet your friends
- My parents always had to get to know my friends. They would ask about my friends parents and what they did and where they lived, their class schedules, their part-time jobs, their blood type. Remember my 15 year-old? I get it. Today’s kids should expect the same, especially online. Part of this is training parents too but today’s kids need to get in the habit of being open about who they’re chatting with, who their MySpace and Facebook friends are and who’s texting them.
Maybe Dad wasn’t so dumb after all. What do you think?