Why the Internet is Like the Mall – Discussing Online Safety With Students

The poster we created as we discussed
The poster we created as we discussed

Another cross posting from my other blog, this one has taken on a life of its own, with others putting their own spin on it.  When we discuss internet safety, it is vital that we are able to relate it to students’ lives, so that they can understand that being behind a computer does not mean that they are protected.  While I am not in the business of scaring students, there are plenty of other ways that can happen, we can stress the importance of proper behavior.  And thus this lesson came about; linking the internet to going to the mall.

I believe in the importance of honest conversation with the kids, where they supply the answers, rather than me hitting them over the head with it.  I simply started out this lesson by writing the words “Internet Safety” on my whiteboard and turned to the kids.  They volunteered what these words meant to them and then I ventured into the mall analogy; so what would they do to stay safe at the mall if their parents dropped them off?  

Some of the students answers were

  • That they would not talk to strangers
  • Give anyone their information if approached
  • Go only to the place they were supposed to
  • And they wold go straight there, rather than take detours or stop at other places 
  • They wouldn’t give their money to strangers
  • Not get caught by good deals or lured into things they probably shouldn’t do

 By having the students provide the safety rules, taken from their own memory of rules drilled into their heads by their formidable parents, they connected real life danger with things that can happen on the internet.  Sometimes students think they are safe on the net, as we all know, and this brought the responsibility home for them.  

 So as we continue learning proper safety and etiquette, we will keep referring back to the mall analogy, for example, would you walk up to a friend and tell them their outfit was ugly when talking about how to comment?  Today was one of those moments where I was able to make students understand something they have to learn in this day and age.  A lesson not just meant for 4th graders or 5th graders but hopefully something they will keep in the back of their minds when they go on the internet themselves, or maybe even next time they go to the mall.  Once again today I realized how huge my responsibility is for these kids and how glad I am to be their teacher.  

19 thoughts on “Why the Internet is Like the Mall – Discussing Online Safety With Students”

  1. I just submitted an article about this for Choice Literacy. I love your mall analogy. What a great way for kids to connect to something they already understand.

  2. A follow-up is to ask the students (younger ones) to draw what a stranger looks like. You get all sorts of monsters. Yet the ones they should be afraid of look perfectly normal, usually bearing treats.

  3. Reblogged this on The Redhead Tech Teacher and commented:
    When teaching with tech, you can never talk about Internet safety enough. This great post from “Blogging Through the Fourth Dimension” gives a great way to frame this discussion with your students as the new school year gets under way.

  4. Thanks for the analogy! I’ve been thinking and looking for something like this. I think my students will really get it.

  5. How have you distinguished the difference between talking to strangers and responding to “stranger” comments? I have always done blogging, matched up with familiar classes, but want to open it up authentically this year and need to wrap my head around this distinction.

    1. The students know that every comment has been approved by me and will be ok to reply to. They also would be able to distinguish between proper comments and “bad” comments. We discuss the conversations we can have with strangers so that students can see the difference between them. It happens pretty naturally actually.

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