As we develop leaders in thought, word and action tackling internet safety is tantamount. Parental supervision online tends to ease as kids are in middle school. Preparing our fifth 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 scholars can access online. Vanguard Collegiate of Indianapolis blocks access to adults-only websites and other dangerous content on all school-issued devices.
Teach scholars 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 our Vanguard scholars when it comes to internet usage. Here we focus on the don’ts as they navigate their online world:
Catfishing is lame
Don’t trust that people are who they say they are online. If scholars 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.
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.
At Vanguard Collegiate of Indianapolis, we have zero tolerance for bullying of any kind. Our policy is very clear — our scholars deserve and will have a bully-free middle school experience with us.
We can and will help with bullying of any kind. Please report any bullying you see or feel online and off. Your classroom teacher is a good place to start. Our THINK model is a refresher of our commitment to this issue and to each other.
Ideas for staying positive online and off means we learn, serve and lead together
Our current shared experience 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 scholar 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 Vanguard scholars!
Remember that empathy matters in all communication – in person and online. As Vanguards, we recognize and prioritize the value we have for one another.
Our middle school team will always help. Reach out to us with anything that feels unsafe or confusing online — or off. We are here to support our scholars and prepare them to be true leaders in thought, word and action.
Vanguard Collegiate of Indianapolis is unapologetically focused on the academic success of our middle school scholars, our fifth to eighth grade students. Situated in Central Indianapolis, we provide high-quality instruction, rigorous curriculum, and supportive character development. We create pathways to college success and to becoming leaders in thought, word, and action. Be a Vanguard, today!