A vast majority of teens are online on a daily basis with most of them using their mobile phones or tablets to access the Internet. Combine this with schools pushing out one-to-one initiatives at a rapid pace. It is no wonder cyberbullying and sexting are most often done through mobile technology with this amount of mobile technology in the hands of teens. While most cybersafety incidents happen outside of school, they often start in school. This means school districts and their schools need to create cybersafety programs to counter these threats to the learning process.
For a cybersafety program to be effective a school districts must:
- Survey students yearly using an instrument such as Hinduja & Patchin's Cyberbullying &Online Aggression Survey (2009).
- Select programs for individual schools based on data from the cybersafety surveys and input from the students it is supposed to help.
- Provide professional development for faculty and staff on implementing cybersafety education programs.
- Adequate budgeting for cybersafety programs.
- Provide necessary materials to schools.
- Provide instruction to parents on research-based methods on keeping their children safe online.
- Appoint a cybersafety coordinator to assist schools with developing cybersafety education programs, develop appropriate consequences for cybersafety violations, train staff involved in cybersafety programs, research the latest trends in cybersafety issues, works with parents, law enforcement, and the media on cybersafety issues.
Schools should do the following for cybersafety effectiveness:
- Insert cybersafety instruction into the most appropriate courses all students are mandated to participate in. Not all students may take technology courses every year.
- Create a school cybersafety response team consisting of an administrator and guidance counselor specially trained to handle cybersafety incidents.
- Ensure all faculty and staff understand how to handle cybersafety incidents and properly report them to the cybersafety response team.
- Provide an annual presentation to parents and the community on cybersafety concerns based on survey data, explain the dangers of cybersafety violations, explain school cybersafety initiatives, and explain what can be done to promote cybersafety in the home.
If school districts and schools fail to develop comprehensive cybersafety plans they run the risk of having the education process disrupted due to fallout from cybersafety incidents. These incidents could also expose school districts and schools to legal accountability if the school does not adequately respond to cybersafety incidents. Finally, schools may lose E-Rate discounts if they do not provide cybersafety education stipulated in the Children's Internet Protection Act of 2012.
For more information on this plan to protect students from cybersafety incidents click the link below: