As we send our children off to high school and college, where they’re encouraged to use computers and the Internet in their studies. What’s wrong with that? Nothing really, it’s a good thing. But should they decide to get into online mischief, they…and you, might wish they hadn’t. According to a Help Net Security article titled Tips for promoting good online behavior,
“In the past few years, many states have enacted laws authorizing schools to suspend students for cyber-misconduct, and schools from coast to coast have responded aggressively to student abuse of online privileges. For example:
- In January 2010, 28 middle school students in Seattle were suspended for joining a Facebook page dedicated to harassing one of their classmates.
- In February 2011, a 15-year-old student in California was suspended for offensive Facebook comments about his biology teacher.
- In April 2011, 10 junior high school students in Arkansas were suspended for sending sexually explicit text messages.
Parents should take three steps to prevent school discipline against their children for inappropriate online activities:
- Determine the school district’s policies for dealing with online attacks against fellow students, teachers and/or staff.
- Discuss those policies with children and warn them that they will face punishment at home as well as at school if they violate the rules.
- Require adherence to the same rules at home to ensure consistency, lessen the likelihood of problems like cyberbullying at school, and help children become good online citizens.”
In addition to state laws, most schools and colleges have Acceptable Use Policies (AUP) that spell out what the student can and can’t do with a computer and the Internet in connection with school and school activities. A good AUP will include the requirement that both the student and parents sign an acknowledgement document stating that they have read and understand the policy or policies related to computer and Internet use while a student at that institution.
If your child’s school doesn’t have one, ask them to create one, because an AUP documents the boundaries for students and provides visibility to your student and to you of what the school expects and the penalties involved if the expectations are violated.
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Home computing is a blast…keep it safe, productive and enjoyable.