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Cyber-Safety for Special Needs Students

Over the summer, many students will be spending more time, possibly unsupervised, on the Internet.  With the popularity of social networking, blogging, wikis, YouTube, and ‘Googling’, many children may be exposed to inappropriate material for their age.  Online safety should be a priority for teachers and parents to stress during this time.  A good time to cover a lesson on Internet safety would be the last few days of school, while other assignments, activities, and lessons are winding down.  Here you will find a variety of resources you can use in your classroom or pass along to parents to teach and inform about online safety.

Kids Online Resources

The Kids Online Resources provides links of relative information for safe surfing, blocking software, and filtered search engines.  The safe surfing links include resources from police departments, government agencies, and non-profit organizations about guidelines for use of the Internet by children.  It also has game links for students to play to actively learn about online safety.  The blocking software includes applications that can be installed on the computer to block and monitor child use of computers.  The filtered search engines include child-friendly search engines for finding research information and school-related materials.  Ask Jeeves for Kids, Yahooligans, and Animal Search are great resources for children to use in lieu of Google or Bing.  Google and Bing do not filter results for children.

The Teacher’s Guide

The Teacher’s Guide has a page devoted to Internet Safety.  This site provides information for parents and teachers about email, browsing the web, chatting online, parental control tools, and other online resources for further information.  Each of the sections of this site provide tips for why these technology tools are important and provide positive benefits for children along with their risks, tips for parents, and ways to be actively involved.  This site also includes general technology links about virtual field trips, interactive sites, online reference tools, software, and SMART boards.

Life Skills Activities for Secondary Students with Special Needs

Life Skills Activities for Secondary Students with Special Needs is a textbook that I found available through Google Books.  I found a very informative and fun lesson for middle and high school students to teach about social networking.  It includes brainstorming activities that correspond to a worksheet, discussion and extension activities, along with an evaluation tool.  The lesson encourages the teacher to lead a discussion with the students about the typical use of the social networking sites, the differences between the sites (what is appropriate where), along with site safety.  This textbook is a great resource for 6-12 students with special needs to learn skills for independence and life success.

Safe Kids

The Safe Kids website has a link for an online safety quiz.  This quiz is best suited for elementary students who are able to read.  The quiz asks approximately 10 questions about what are appropriate and inappropriate activities while on the net.  When the students finish, they are returned to the main page for the Safe Kids website.  This site contains comprehensive information about safety for children with various types of technology including computer, the Internet, cell phones, and social networking.

Online safety is an important lesson to include at all grade and ability levels.  Students should be actively involved in the learning about online safety as well as parents being informed of tips, sites, and other information about online safety.

-Article by Laura Ketcham

-Picture by iwannt

Free Teacher Resources | Special Education by MangoMon

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