My students are fifth graders, and after an informal poll I determined about half of them use instant messaging chat programs. About three-fourths of them own cell phones and send texts to their friends. None of them have been formally taught how to use these social networks in a respectful and ethical manner.
As teachers who use technology, we have an added responsibility. It is our job as educators to educate our students about possible dangers related to social networking and the ethical responsibility of using social networks. If they aren't taught, we cannot assume they will know.
Based on discussion, it was obvious that all of the students were aware of the dangers of giving out personal information and talking to strangers over the internet. What they weren't aware of however is the dangers of cyber bullying. Below are a couple of videos I used to begin the discussion.
We discussed the videos and several others. You can find more here: http://cyberchickens5.wikispaces.com/CyberBully. During the discussion, I was surprised to see some of the students squirming. They admitted that they were guilty or knew others who were guilty of "cyber bullying."
Some important points discussed were:
-Forms of cyber bullying include but are not limited to abusive text messages, hate sites, poisonous emails, and rude instant messaging.
-In addition, spreading rumors and forwarding what someone says is also unethical and disrespectful.
-If cyber bullied, students should save evidence and tell someone right away.
Most importantly, I told my students that now that they know about cyber bullying, they have a responsibility to teach the world. With a global audience, a blog on the internet seemed the perfect venue to do so. Students took the challenge and after some further research, they created podcasts, Power Point presentations and digital movies to portray the dangers of cyber bullying.
Below is an example of one group's project.
To view more, please go to our Cyber Bully Blog at http://stopcyberbully.blogspot.com/