Infrastructure

Businesses Should Provide Online Safety Education, Report Says

By Katie Ash — July 08, 2009 3 min read

Companies that do an extensive amount of business online should provide information and other resources to parents and children about online safety before, during, and after children use their Web sites, says a report released today.

The report from the Washington-based PointSmart.ClickSafe, an initiative of the National Cable and Telecommunications Association that focuses on educating parents about Internet safety, also calls for the creation of a federal agency to work to improve such safety, along with increased funding for online-safety curricula, research, and professional development. National goals for ensuring online safety for students and families, as well as digital literacy standards for schools, should also be developed, the report states.

A team of media companies, nonprofit organizations, educators, and public-health officials wrote the report with the aim of recommending steps for business and government to take to help keep children safe online.

“The real goal of the task force was to look at what industry can do across all sectors to move the needle to create a better online environment for youth,” said Marsali S. Hancock, a member of the task force and the president of iKeepSafe, an Arlington, Va.-based coalition of public-health officials and policymakers working to ensure children’s Internet safety. “By mixing the communities up, it created a much better framework for starting the conversation.”

Schools are in a unique position to teach students about the ethical use of the Internet, but improvement is needed in developing lessons related to online safety and incorporating them into existing curricula. More time is also needed to train teachers in how to approach the material, the report states.

The report recognizes that using filters to block inappropriate content in schools can restrict access to “harmless and valid educational materials,” and educators on the task force acknowledged that students often know how to get around them. Filters do play an important role in keeping students from accessing important information, according to the panel, but they are “an imperfect tool and schools sometimes over-rely on it to the detriment of teaching youth about safety and responsible behavior online.”

Before children or parents access information on company Web sites, those companies first should provide basic information and tips about online safety, define acceptable online behaviors in their profile-creation or registration process, and determine better ways to verify the ages and identities of people using their sites, the report recommends.

While a child is online, his or her parents should be able to customize safety settings and access information about filtering, safety, and security options, says the report.

If a problem does occur, it says, companies should have a detailed procedure in place to handle security issues, including a way to report problems, an explanation of what should be reported, and instructions on how to remove unwanted content from an online page or profile, or to cancel an account.

‘Safe and Responsible’

“Kids today are increasingly tech-savvy. It is vital that we help them develop digital-media literacy skills and guide them how to use technology in a safe and responsible way,” Stephen Balkam, the chief executive officer of the Washington-based Family Online Safety Institute, said in a statement. “We are working with various stakeholders to build a culture of responsibility online, and this report will add impetus for a cohesive and collaborative approach to not only keep kids safe, but also to encourage personal resiliency and responsibility for their online actions.”

The task force that crafted the report and recommendations grew from an Internet-safety summit held in Washington last year by PointSmart.ClickSafe.

“It was a great way to start a task force because we already had the framework,” Ms. Hancock said.

The report, she said, aimed to answer a key question: “What can we actually do that doesn’t require changing laws” to keep children safe online?

A version of this article appeared in the July 15, 2009 edition of Education Week as Businesses Should Provide Online Safety Education, Report Says

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Professional Development Webinar
Building Leadership Excellence Through Instructional Coaching
Join this webinar for a discussion on instructional coaching and ways you can link your implement or build on your program.
Content provided by Whetstone Education/SchoolMint
Teaching Webinar Tips for Better Hybrid Learning: Ask the Experts What Works
Register and ask your questions about hybrid learning to our expert panel.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Families & the Community Webinar
Family Engagement for Student Success With Dr. Karen Mapp
Register for this free webinar to learn how to empower and engage families for student success featuring Karen L. Mapp.
Content provided by Panorama Education & PowerMyLearning

EdWeek Top School Jobs

User Experience Analyst
Portland, OR, US
Northwest Evaluation Association
Senior Business Analyst - 12 Month Contract
Portland, OR, US
Northwest Evaluation Association
Coordinator of Strategic Partnerships
Camden, New Jersey, United States
Camelot Education
Senior Director Marketing
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
Camelot Education

Read Next

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Infrastructure Whitepaper
The Value of Automation in K-12 Schools Back Office
Download this eBook to learn more about how automation can help improve and streamline operations for K-12 school districts' back-office ...
Content provided by SAP Concur
Infrastructure Internet Access Is a Civil Rights Issue
In the world’s wealthiest country, why is broadband access denied to so many and in such high numbers? Mark Lieberman investigates.
7 min read
v40 6BI ML IMG
Illustration by Jamiel Law
Infrastructure Schools Handed Out Millions of Digital Devices Under COVID-19. Now, Thousands Are Missing
Some districts are scrambling to account for thousands of devices—a task made more urgent by the uncertainty over when students will be able to return to school buildings full-time.
5 min read
1 Laptops ARTICLE
Getty
Infrastructure How to Address Big Tech Equity Challenges
School districts are facing huge tech equity issues this school year, especially if schools return to full-time remote learning. Here’s how they are addressing those challenges.
7 min read
Sam Urban Wittrock, a history teacher at W.W. Samuell High School in Dallas, shows an example of one of the many WiFi hotspot devices his school district is giving to students. Schools nationwide are gearing up to do a better job this academic year making sure digital devices and WiFi access are available to all students.
Sam Urban Wittrock, a history teacher at W.W. Samuell High School in Dallas, shows an example of one of the many WiFi hotspot devices his school district is giving to students. Schools nationwide are gearing up to do a better job this academic year making sure digital devices and WiFi access are available to all students.
Tony Gutierrez/AP