- Myth: "Criminals will find and kidnap my students." Statistically speaking, the likelihood of this happening is very, very, very small. That being said, take a moment to share Google Earth with your students and show them how someone can find you if you give them information. Teach them.
- Myth: "My students will never get a job if they post something negative online." Of course, there are horror stories of this happening but most students do not even understand the parameters of what is okay and what is not okay to post. Start the learning process by using a safe outlet that you can see and control posting, like Edmodo. Teach them.
- Myth: "Class Skype chats are dangerous and an invasion of privacy." As always, parent permission comes first - if a parent does not give a student permission to have their face shown, you can have them sit outside of camera range. If it just makes you uncomfortable, you can protect student identities by keeping the webcam at a distance. Or be the spokesperson for the group but allow the students to still participate. This is a wonderful opportunity for students to connect with others around the world and learn from each other. Share with them ahead of time what information is okay to share and what is not. Teach them.
- Myth: "Social media creates cyberbullies." Bullies existed before social media; technology is just one outlet. However, students do feel safer to act this way when they're behind the screen. There is a fine line here. What we need to understand is that students are going to use it and if we act like social media doesn't exist, then when a student finds himself in an uncomfortable situation, he doesn't have the resources to know how to handle it and we have missed the opportunity to help him. We also miss out on the potential resources found on social media and the opportunity to communicate and collaborate. Teach them.
- Myth: "Digital natives already know how to be safe online." No they don't. We just assume because they've grown up in this world that they already know how to handle themselves online. Teach them.
You may be thinking, "When do I have time to teach all of that?" While you can always make a separate lesson plan (they have great ones at Common Sense Media), take opportunities when you are working with technology in your class to have these discussions. They don't have to be separate but they need to happen. Let's give our kids the tools they need! Stay safe!