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Southwest Orange Wednesday, Oct. 27, 2021 8 months ago

Windermere Elementary spotlights Cyber Safety

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Students throughout Orange County learned to avoid “stranger danger” in a digital world.
by: Jim Carchidi Former Associate Editor

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

According to a study by The Center for Cyber Safety and Education, 40% of children in grades four through eight have chatted with a stranger online. Of those, 53% revealed their phone numbers and 6% revealed their home address.

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

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. The program stressed the need to think about what you post and the possible consequences of giving away personal information. A question-and-answer session allowed Taylor to delve more deeply into safety issues.

On the topic of posting vacation pictures while you’re away: “This one is super tempting, 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, she said.

On the topic of posting personal information when you’re sure the privacy setting is turned on: “It’s (really) 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 the technology training offered to Orange County Public Schools students in every grade level.

“Digital citizenship lessons are included in the scope and sequence for English Language Arts at all grade levels,” OCPS Director of Digital Learning Outreach Mariel Milano said in an email. “However, the current structure of digital citizenship lessons as a required part of annual curriculum began in 2018, when all of our middle and high school students had 1:1 technology.”

Taylor and the staff at Windermere Elementary cover a range of social media-related topics on a regular basis. They discussed recently cyber bullies — and how to avoid becoming one. 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,” Taylor said. “We focus on helping all of our students become good digital citizens.

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Jim Carchidi was an associate editor for the West Orange Times & Observer, Southwest Orange Observer and OrangeObserver.com. 

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