There is a whole world of information online for today’s children to discover. But learning how to explore cyberspace safely requires help. Just as children get taught how to assess and manage dangers in the ‘real world’ such as to let hot things cool before touching them, they need to learn how to assess the online world and manage the situations they will encounter there.
Many public and school libraries are now offering cybersafety programs teaching children how to be safe online. In Australia there has been a government initiative to support this called Cyber Smart (now named eSafety) offering resources videos and games as well as toolkits to help kids, parents, libraries and schools. The goals of this program are outlined in the The Cybersmart Guide for Library Staff (p7):
“Young library users access the internet for entertainment, research, school assignments and to communicate. In doing so they can also, often unknowingly, place themselves in risky situations by:
- giving out personal details about themselves to people or organisations they don’t know
- posting unsuitable information online, including photos
- agreeing to meet people they’ve only ever met online, without speaking to a parent or carer
- using provocative pseudonyms
- sharing passwords
- posting public profiles about themselves
- unsafe browsing or searching, clicking on links that take them to unsuitable web pages
- opening messages from people they don’t know
- responding to nasty or suggestive messages
- using online games or virtual worlds that are only for people over 18
- accessing inappropriate or illegal material.
- Not all library users will experience problems. Empowering young users will help them to have safe and positive internet experiences.”
There are many programs available, many of which offer resources and tools to help develop programs at your own library. Some examples from around the world include:
- Safer Internet Day (from the EU)
- e-Smart Libraries (from Australia)
- Safe Online Searching (from the US)
Plus the Copacabana Public School website has a great list of other cybersafety links.
Have you run a cybersafety program? What did it cover?