Ethical Issues for Safety and Security

Social Networking
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  • Websites such as Facebook, Twitter and Myspace allow users to create personal profiles and view and comment on information and pictures of their friends and family.
  • Social networking first appealed to younger users but now it is very common to see adults browsing and creating accounts on these sites.
  • As of this year (2010) Facebook hosts over 500 million users worldwide!
  • One increasing problem with social networking in regards to education is students and teachers becoming friends and viewing each others profiles.
  • Users can flag or report any inappropriate information or activity on social networking sites but a lot of scandalous activity goes unnoticed.
  • Many school systems can heavily filter or even block social networking sites but this does not prevent what students may or may not do and see when they use social networks at home.

Check out this article about one of the most contraversial issues regarding social networking and education.

Acceptable Use Policies
  • Schools need to realize that technology and the internet especially is constantly changing every second.
  • School policies and guidelines for using education must keep up with these changes.
  • Many school teachers, administrators and faculty members adress these changing policies in staff meetings.
  • Schools post their acceptable use policies for internet use on thier school websites and in weekly newsletters to keep parents and students informed.

Check out this video that discusses acceptable use policies for school internet use.

  • Remember anything posted on the internet is set in stone!
  • Internet users often forget they are communicating with real people, especially when social networking.
  • Do not post anything or say anything you would not do or say to someone in real life.
  • Respect the privacy of others and never give away passwords or usernames to someone you do not trust.
  • Always read the fine print when downloading, accepting or agreeing anything on the internet.
  • Frequently install and update anti-virus software such as Norton and McAfee.
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Cyber Bullying
  • The internet is a great tool to make friends but unfortunately it is frequently used to make enemies.
  • Children cannot escape from bullying even at thier own home thanks to cyber bullying.
  • Children think just because they are using technology to bully thier peers they will not get caught.
  • It is hard to tell if a person is jokking or being serious when communicating through technology; therefore many cases of cyber bullying are often overlooked.
  • Some children even use cell phones as a form of cyber bullying.

Check out this National Public Radio podcast that follows up on a tragic suicide incident related to cyber bullying.

Student Data
  • Is student data safe on the internet? This is an ongoing debate that may never be solved.
  • Most teachers keep thier student data such as grades and emergency contact information on thier computers.
  • Usernames and passwords prevent anyone but the teacher to access this information.
  • Most school computers can detect when an unauthorized person views or tampers with student data. This potentially makes the computer a safer place to store student data than storing it on paper.
  • Whether student data is stored digitally or on paper if it is lost then it may never be found.

Teacher Recommendations for Student Data Storage:
  • If student data is stored on paper keep it in a safe place in the classroom such as a locked filing cabinet.
  • If student data is stored on a computer make sure the computer requires a login username and password that you know.
  • NEVER post or link any student data to the internet.
  • Student data stored on a flash drive or external hard drive should be stored in a locked filing cabinet or secure area in the classroom as well.

Internet Privacy
  • People tend to forget the internet is public and whatever they post can be viewed by anyone.
  • Search engines like Google and Bing make it easy to trace a persons name on the world wide web.
  • Many times internet users give away personal information without even noticing it.
  • Websites can install cookies which are electronic devices that detect the users movements as they surf the internet.
  • Many websites that require usernames and passwords have a "forget your password" link. Some of these links enable your password to be emailed to you. Unfortunately it is possible that these emails can get intercepted by someone else.
  • One of the best practices for internet privacy is frequently changing your password to something that only you will remember.

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Take my survey on internet privacy, I'd love to hear your comments!