Parent-friendly internet safety
Friday, October 28, 2011
Our PTA wants to hold an event on Internet safety for parents. Any suggestions?
Programming aimed at technology, cyberbullying and Internet safety is a great, contemporary topic to present-and often the last thing parents want to talk about after a busy day with work and family.
Finding the right program and setting up easy-to-access information on the subject is the best way to get important information in the hands of parents. Follow these steps when putting together a program in your school.
1) Narrow your topic. Internet safety has become a generic term and can feel overwhelming to parents. Consider a topic that has a focused appeal-cyberbullying, online strangers, Facebook and privacy are all important topics for families that embody the basic safety information.
2) Learn from other schools. Contact other schools in the area to find out about programs they've hosted on technology, the Internet or online safety.
3) Research presentations. Dated materials and fear-focused presenters can leave your audience feeling frustrated, scared and confused. Look for presenters and materials with up-to-date presentations and established credentials. Start with PTOToday.com, which provides a free planning kit, or Commonsensemedia.org, which offers free PowerPoint presentations, scripts and handouts. Netsmartz.org and Safekids.com also offer presentations and workshop materials for parents and kids.
4) Get kids involved. This provides double benefits. First, it requires that students attend the event, which means parents will more likely attend. Second, it reinforces the messages on the student level. Consider how students can produce a skit, provide personal testimony or serve as ushers during your event.
5) Connect it with curriculum. Can cyberbullying be a writing prompt for a sixth-grade English personal essay? Can the fourth-grade math class learn about percentages using statistics about youth and media use? Talk to teachers to see how a program on Internet safety could meet the curriculum requirements of a particular class.
6) Make information available. Hectic family schedules make attendance challenging. Materials that can be sent home with children or posted on the school website will best reach your school community.
Sharon Cindrich is a mom and a writer specializing in helping parents understand technology.