Keeping Kids Safe Online

Keeping Kids Safe Online
Posted on 10/12/2017

The internet has opened up many opportunities and possibilities for students today. It is a powerful platform for educating our students and extending learning beyond the classroom. As most families and community members know, 6-12 grade students in the School District of the Menomonie Area (SDMA) have all been provided a Chromebook this year, and all elementary schools in our school district are equipped with a large number of computing devices.  

Theses digital devices are being used regularly both inside and outside of our schools for various learning activities that range from researching topics, communicating with teachers, collaborating with classmates, and so much more. One of my favorites examples of how technology is being used in our schools is a tweet from this fall that includes a picture of a high school student reading music off of a Chromebook as he is playing his trombone.

As valuable as the internet is for acquiring new information and knowledge, it is also a resource that has evolved without clearly defined social norms and values. We now live in a world where online access plays a critical role in most aspects of our lives, so we have a responsibility to educate our children about using technology in a safe, responsible, and respectful manner.  

October is Keeping Kids Safe Online Month in Wisconsin and we need to work together to ensure our kids are good digital citizens. As a school district, we filter internet access for all students and use an auditing tool to help monitor cyberbullying, self-harm, and inappropriate use. While these are important tools for keeping kids safe, it is vital that we help our children define appropriate norms and boundaries for technology use.

In our schools, we prioritize the teaching of good digital citizenship through instruction at various grade levels and by good modeling by our teachers, support staff, and administrators. Our school district has also offered opportunities for parents to learn about internet safety by hosting a showing of the movie Screenagers and by providing an online safety seminar this fall with speakers from Fierce Freedom and the Menomonie Police Department.

According to the Parent’s Guide to Protecting your Family Online, here are some other quick technology tips for keeping our children safe:

  1. Talk to kids about technology: Discuss the apps they use and let them share how they are using them. Talk to them about bullying behaviors and how to respond, the risks of sharing too much information, and the impact of creating a digital footprint.

  2. Set expectations: As kids receive access to devices--computers, phones, tablets--set expectations for when they can be online and what they can share and access. Think about creating a contract with your child to clearly define these expectations.

  3. Keep calm: If your child shares a bad experience online, remain calm and use it as a learning opportunity.

  4. Be aware of resources: There are many tools for schools and families to help kids stay safe online. Our school district uses a Securly web filter to help keep students safe on their school-issued devices, and parents of 6-12 students with 1:1 devices have the option to receive weekly emails that will provide a summary of a student’s online activity at home. Check out some of the other resources available on our district website (

Should school families or stakeholders have any questions about technology in our schools. or anything else related to our school district, I invite you to contact SDMA Director of Technology Katie Krueger, or visit with me at the Administrative Service Center on Pine Avenue. School stakeholders are also welcome to call me at 715-232-1642. More information about our schools can be found on the school district website (, and I regularly post school-related information on Twitter ( and Facebook (

*Thank you to SDMA Director of Technology Katie Krueger for contributing to this article.