Internet safety education that empowers youth to safely, responsibly, and legally use the Internet in today’s world is vital. A 2007 study conducted by the National Assessment Center revealed that 40% of children do not discuss Internet safety with their parents. The same number says if their parents knew where they were online or with whom they chatted with online they “would have concerns.” Another survey from the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children found that nearly 60% of middle school youth are participants in cyberbullying and 1 in 5 teens “sexts” despite knowledge of associated risks. And, with the popularity of social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook, youth are increasingly the targets of cyber predators even in small, rural communities.
Bridging the digital divide between “digital natives” and their parents and educators is not an easy task. A 2008 study from the National Cyber Security Alliance reported that less than a quarter of formal and non-formal educators feel comfortable teaching students about how to protect themselves online. Similar research suggests that even fewer parents feel comfortable engaging their children in discussions about technology safety and their expectations for practicing good online decision-making skills.
Ultimately, it is because our youth are best protected from Internet dangers by learning the skills to act responsibly as cyber citizens and gaining the wisdom to navigate online safely and because youth will be most prepared in adulthood by engaging in a multitude of technology learning experiences, that Buffalo County UW-Extension 4-H Youth Development Educator, Annie Lisowski, is dedicated to supporting safe communities for youth both in the “real world” and online through internet safety education.
Below are resources developed by Annie Lisowski, Buffalo County 4-H Youth Development Educator for reaching educators, parents and students with strategies to increase online decision-making skills. Please let Annie know at firstname.lastname@example.org you find her resources valuable or how you are using them in your work. Thank you.