Virginia became the first state this year to require Internet safety courses in its public schools. Illinois and Texas both have laws on the books relating to curriculum and instruction in this area, but Virginia is currently the only state to require such courses according to VNUNet.
As one student in the article pointed out,
James River High School student Maya Towers said: "I thought it was very important because we post a lot of things on the internet. I didn't know how much information can be exposed."
This highlights the attitudes of most of our students. While some conceal their identities on MySpace, Facebook, AOL, and other bits of social media, many others blithely post pictures, locations, and even phone numbers and addresses.
Now that my students have discovered Twitter, I've had to warn them about being too revealing in their tweets. Few realized that the growing network of followers (particularly for my feed) had access to any information they posted. Fortunately, most of my followers are either students or other folks interested in the educational value of social media. However, even these followers don't need to know that Ashley and Susie are at the local movie theater alone and will be getting out at 9:45.
The level of naivete among many students is disturbing at best; well-planned curricula in the public schools could go a long ways towards keeping safe as we increasingly live a second life (no pun intended) online.