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West Orange Times & Observer Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021 1 year ago

Windermere Elementary observes Cyber Safety Day

Students learn to avoid “stranger danger” in a digital world.
by: Jim Carchidi Associate Editor

Third-graders at Windermere Elementary school added safety measures to their cyber skills on Wednesday, Oct. 20, during Cyber Safety Day.

According to a study by The Center for Cyber Safety and Education, 40% of children in grades 4-8 have chatted with a stranger online. Of that number, 53% revealed their phone numbers and 6% revealed their home address.

Windermere Elementary Media Specialist Kimberly Taylor gets an enthusiastic response during a cyber safety Q&A session.

“We’re trying to let the children know that hackers are getting smarter all the time and finding more creative ways to get information,” said Windermere Elementary Media Specialist Kimberly Taylor.

More than 1,800 elementary school students in the Orlando area participated in the event, now in its third year. A video presentation featuring Garfield and his friends explained how to safely post on social media. A Q&A session allowed Taylor to delve a bit more deeply into safety issues.

On the topic of posting vacation pictures while you’re away: “This one is super temping and grown-ups do it all the time,” she said. “They're excited because they’re on vacation and they want to share pictures… but you’re advertising to the world that you're not home.” The solution is to post your vacation photos when you get home.

On the topic of posting personal information when you know your privacy setting is on: “It’s real easy to hit the wrong button,” she said. “It’s too simple to make a mistake.” The solution is to never post personal information.

The lessons of the day were only part of what Taylor and the staff at Windermere Elementary cover on a regular basis. Tips on dealing with cyberbullies - and how to avoid becoming one - were recently discussed. And the subtleties of online communication are also covered.

“They don’t realize when we’re communicating through email and text, emotion isn’t seen or felt or received so we have to make sure we’re not too direct or too harsh,” said Taylor. “We focus on helping all of our students become good digital citizens.”

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Jim Carchidi is an associate editor for the West Orange Times & Observer, Southwest Orange Observer and He has more than two decades of journalism experience in Central Florida, including positions at the Orlando Sentinel and the Orlando Business Journal. He holds a...

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