Monday, April 07, 2008

Virginia is apparently first state to require Internet safety education in public schools

Today, April 7, 2008, NBC4 in Washington reported that Virginia is the first state to require Internet safety training in all grade levels, and this started in the fall of 2007 with the school year. The link is here; the original story is brief but is likely to expand with updates, as is NBC4's practice with developing stories.

I’m not sure that this means there is training in kindergarten or very early grades, and I haven’t heard anything about this and the SOL’s. But I do know from other discussions that the Virginia General Assembly mandated that school boards develop Internet safety education, at least for middle and high schools. My understanding was that Isafe is a major source of the educational materials.

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children ( is also a contributor. Over a third of minors say they have seen unwanted explicitly “adult” materials online. It’s not clear how well this tracks with parents’ use of Internet filters or monitoring of kids’ use, such as by centralizing a “family computer” or by using software than enables them to monitor their kids’ accounts.

As I’ve indicated, I believe that it should be mandatory for high schools (in English and social studies and perhaps technology classes) to offer specific instruction in workplace conduct, libel, privacy, fraud (impersonation, “dreamcatching” or “fiction” manipulation) and copyright law, and even the nebulous area of “reputation defense”. Teachers and administrators may need to seek outside help (as from universities or community colleges in their areas, or even law schools – and, to some extent, and with some caution -- from software companies themselves) to develop and present the curricula.

Several parents and teachers commented on my March 9, 2008 posting here on the FTC guidelines, and they bear rereading (see archives).

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