Supervision online tends to ease as kids are in middle school, so preparing our fourth to eighth graders to make good choices now and always — will help keep them safe online for years to come.
The internet is an amazing resource. But it’s also a scary place — and collaborating together — adults and kids — can teach our middle schoolers how to exist online in a safe and fun way. For life!
Be mindful of what students can access online. Think about blocking access to adults-only web sites and other dangerous content.
Teach students now the importance of the digital tattoo. Things that get posted online can sometimes be impossible to erase. Once something is online — video, text, or photo — there is no controlling who sees it.
There are plenty of do’s for Progeny scholars when it comes to internet usage. Here we focus on the don’ts for our Progeny students as they navigate their online world:
- Catfishing is lame. Don’t trust that people are who they say they are online. If your students are interacting with others online, teach them how to verify. Avoid catfishers by qualifying all online identities. Check full names on Google and see if they exist at all or have other online accounts. Do the research to understand if this person is real — and when in doubt BLOCK them out!
- Don’t trust every link. Scams and cons abound. Check links for legitimacy before clicking. Here’s a guide on how to check links before clicking. Avoid pop up ads and never give out personal information about your date of birth or home address, unless an adult says this is acceptable. Talk to your child(ren) about how scams happen and what kind of viruses can be downloaded when the wrong link gets clicked.
- Protect privacy. Kids under 13 are not supposed to have any social media accounts. If they’re on before then, here are some things to know. Think twice before posting a status update in real time. It’s not always a good idea to alert people to where you are. Explicit photos are all too common today. Talk to your child about your family’s recognition of this trend and how not to be involved.
- Use single serve passwords — try to use a different one for every account that is opened. There are apps and ways to keep track of passwords like 1Password and Lastpass.
- Cyberbullying takes many forms and is hurtful. If you are experiencing this, it is best to IGNORE the bully, block them and tell an adult at home and at school.
No one is responsible for how others treat them, do not blame yourself (or your child) if mistreatment is occurring.
At Progeny Academy, we have zero tolerance for bullying of any kind. Our policy is very clear in our intention to support all of our students to have a bully-free middle school experience with us. We will help — so please report any bullying you see or feel online and off. Your classroom teacher is a good place to start.
- Ideas for staying positive online and off — helping our students always comes first! This period of isolation can bring up uncomfortable feelings. It is important to acknowledge these feelings. If these feelings turn into overwhelming spirals — here are some things a middle school student can do:
- Write out a list of thoughts– circling the things you can actually do something about and crossing out the things that are not of your control.
You might, for example, circle the project you have coming up, the new video game you want and this week’s chores. You might cross out the closed movie theatre, a financial concern or an argument that really doesn’t include you.
- List the people you can turn to for support and the places you can go.
Maybe it’s a bike ride or a walk. Perhaps it’s listening to music, journalling or creating some art. Maybe it’s a phone call with a friend or a teacher.
- It is good to know your needs and ask for them. If you want to be alone — make that happen. If you need a listening ear, connect with someone at home or at school. We are here for you, our beloved Progeny students!
Remember that empathy matters in all communication – in person and online. Our Progeny team will always help. Reach out to us with anything that feels unsafe or confusing online — or off. We are here to support our students. We truly put students first!
About Progeny Academy
Progeny Academy provides an authentic educational program, for grades four through eight, grounded in inquiry-based principles and a nurturing social/emotional curriculum. We guide our students through the sometimes-challenging middle school years with goal setting, situational problem solving, and growth mindsets, all in our small, supportive classrooms. We are passionate about middle school and our safe learning environment for all. Students come first at Progeny Academy!