How to teach internet safety in primary schools

Jacqui Murray

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The Internet is a wonderful student resource for researching school reports, communicating with teachers, staying in touch with friends, and entertaining themselves. They can literally hit a few keystrokes and find out about culture in China, the history of Europe, or take a tour of the American White House.

But with that access comes risks, even if you’re careful. For example, in our year 3 class project on life cycles, we never allow the students to search “chicks”, rather they must type “baby chickens” to avoid problems.

The digital natives we are educating don’t want to hide from the internet, though. They want to learn to manage it. What we as teachers must do is show them how to avoid the internet’s bad neighbourhoods so they can benefit from the good. Here’s my year-by-year run-down on how to prepare students to thrive in the online world:

Reception

I mix the following internet safety lessons with other projects during my 45-minutes-per-week lesson. I spread them out throughout the year, repeating if necessary, which doesn’t bother the children at all.

Year 2

I mix the following lessons in with other projects throughout the year. I reinforce the topic of ‘internet’ at least monthly so students realise its importance.

Year 3

Year 4 - this is a four-week unit

Year 5 - this is a five-week unit

Year 6 - this is a seven-week unit

  • Discuss digital citizenship - what does that mean? Why is it important? What are the responsibilities of being a ‘digital citizen’?
  • Discuss copyrights
  • Discuss plagiarism and the importance of giving credit to the creator of text and images
  • Discuss fair use
  • Discuss public domain
  • Discuss ‘digital footprint’ - what does that mean?
  • Discuss netiquette, good online manners
  • Discuss safe online presence (no last names, etc.)
  • Discuss safe research methods (and how that equates to internet safety)
  • Use the Webquest on Hoax or Not
  • Explore Is This Picture Real?

Year 7 (secondary)

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