Muddling through the blogosphere

On the Internet, “nobody knows you’re a dog”


This post is in response to Anne Mirtschin‘s request for cybersafety resources for students. I’m currently out of the classroom, but for the past two years I’ve been teaming with our district webmaster to provide Internet safety workshops for teachers and administrators, who during the course of the 2-hour session often swap their teacher hats for their parent hats. Fortunately, the resources for students, teachers, and parents are plentiful and growing.

Here’s the opening slide from our PowerPoint. I like to start with the humor of the New Yorker cartoon*, quickly transitioning into the implications and realities of “On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog” by showing the Trevor’s Story video.


I’ll be adding Anne’s post as an example of how an elementary teacher prepares students for safe travels across the information highway.

Here are my top 10 Internet safety resources:

  1. i-Safe – Sponsored by the US Dept. of Justice, i-Safe offers free online training and certification as an iSafe instructor, parent, or mentor. It takes about 5 hours to complete the certification, after which you’ll be familiar with all the iSafe resources, including the classroom lesson resources they’ll send in hardcopy.
  2. – Keep scrolling down the parent resource page and you’ll find excellent videos, including the What You Need to Know video. If I could direct parents to only one resource, it would be this video. It clearly explains the dangers of the Internet AND also makes a clear case for why Web 2.0 tools are important for 21st century students.
  3. Pete Reilly’s article Facts about Sex Abuse and Schools – In addition to the stats that make clear that school is NOT where online predators are meeting up with students, I love his opening words: “In education circles the magical mantra has been ’student safety.’ The fear of online predators has been used to curtail, restrict, and prohibit the use of some of the most promising online educational technology tools. …” and his closing words: “As educational leaders we need to be safety conscious. We need to be prudent, reasonable; but we won’t live in fear and we won’t act from fear. It is by opening doors, not closing them, that we create new possibilities for our children and new futures for ourselves.”
  4. Statistics from the Pew Internet and American Life Project – Why would a district block blogging, for instance, when the stats show that “Some 93% of teens use the internet, and more of them than ever are treating it as a venue for social interaction – a place where they can share creations, tell stories, and interact with others.”
  5. Ideas for Integrating Internet Safety into the Curriculum – Kudos to the Virginia Department of Education for providing a model of how to align ideas for addressing Internet safety in the context of their state content standards for students.
  6. Elk Grove Unified’s growing bank of resources – We continue to add resources and plan to reorganize soon by k-3, 4-6, 7-8, and 9-12 categories. Really, we were planning to do this before finding Virginia’s site:-)

7 – 10 Cyberbullying recourses – While we are certainly concerned about protecting students from online predators, the main focus of our program is to educate workshop participants about this heinous problem of cyberbullying, which unlike the old days when a bullied student could escape taunts once the school day ended, we recognize the seriousness and heart-wrenching consequences of 27/7 cyberbullying:

  • NetSmartz’ Real Life Stories -My favorite video is Broken Friendship.
  • Stop Cyberbullying – Provides excellent background information
  • Spirit Desk’s Hero in the Hallway – This video is truly a K-12 resource. Scroll to the bottom of the page to find the video link.

*Cartoon by Peter Steiner. The New Yorker, July 5, 1993 issue (Vol.69 (LXIX) no. 20) page 61


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