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Activities for the community

Making sure that kids have the critical thinking skills they need to make safe and smart online decisions isn’t just a parental responsibility. Everyone in your community can play a role.

The resources below will help you work with and build partnerships between home and school, libraries and community groups to raise awareness and educate adults about kids’ Internet use.

1. Educate parents

Send home Internet information in school, church or community newsletters. You’ll find lots of parent handouts and tip sheets - that are free to download and distribute in your community - here and on the Media Awareness Network Web site.

2. Set up a technology committee in your school

Create a committee of teachers and interested parents to be responsible for:

  • assessing your current technology status.
  • working to ensure that the technology needs of all students are being met.
  • developing a plan to educate students about safe and smart use of the Internet.
  • working with the administration to establish a culture of proper use of technology in the classroom by creating guidelines for the ethical use of the Internet.
  • setting up a roster of technology-savvy parents who can volunteer in the school’s computer lab or classes.
  • ensuring that technology is being used to enhance learning.
  • seeing that the school has an appropriate policy for managing offensive online content. In many cases filtering and blocking is done at the board level, in which case teachers and parents may not have a lot of input. If, however, your school is responsible for controlling Internet content, then parents should be part of the policy decisions.

3. Build a class or school Web site

Make sure parents are involved in decisions regarding school or classroom Web sites. Parents should have input into what kind of information will be posted on the site - in particular, personally identifiable information about students.

Use the Web site to foster communication, cooperation, and community among the school's parents, teachers, and students. For example, include a Parents’ Section on the site with information on Internet safety, use of technology in the school and homework assignments.

Focus on positive Internet content by creating "portals" that link to great age-appropriate sites. Ask teachers to include links to materials to support specific curriculum units.

4. Organize an Internet day or week at your school

Use the event to inform parents and your community about the benefits and risks of the Internet for children. Organize hands-on activities for students that will emphasise the positive use of the Net while highlighting issues of concern such as cyberbullying and plagiarism. For example:

  • Create a school blog where students can profile interesting class projects.
  • Launch a mentoring program where older students work with students in younger grades to develop smart and safe surfing skills.
  • Develop, with input from students, "Netiquette Guidelines" to discourage cyberbullying and online harassment.

Send out a press release to local media so they will cover the launch of your Internet day or week.

5. Host an Internet awareness workshop

You can deliver the MediaSmart’s Parenting the Net Generation workshop at your school, church, library or community centre. The workshop, which looks at key Internet issues related to kids’ Internet use, includes a PowerPoint presentation, speaking notes, and a user guide with handouts for participants and is available from the MediaSmarts.

6. Involve your community Girl Guide unit

Work with your local guiding unit to help the girls achieve a CyberCitizen Challenge crest. This Internet literacy program was developed by the MediaSmarts in partnership with Girl Guides of Canada.

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