Meadow View teaching Internet safety

With the constant bombardment of spam e-mails and online predators, it’s never too early to learn Internet safety techniques, said Meadow View Elementary teacher Jennifer Cowsar.

Teachers at the school will be teaching an Internet safety curriculum to kindergarten-through-third-grade students this semester. The curriculum will cover a range of safety topics from false advertisements to chat room predators, Cowsar explained.

“We are basically teaching the kids about online contests and the consequences of them, and about how they should avoid these pop-up advertisements and things like that,” Cowsar said. “There are often surveys on these game sites kids use that ask extremely personal questions, like household income and bank numbers.

“We just want to teach them that those are big red flags when they see them,” Cowsar added. “Kids that young may not have e-mail addresses, but their parents do, and that can cause their e-mail boxes to be filled with spam.”

During the classes, educators also will explain the dangers associated with Internet chat rooms.

“Just because someone in a chat room says they are an eight-year-old girl who collects unicorns, it doesn’t mean that’s who they really are,” Cowsar said. “We want them to know there are bad people out there who want to take advantage of them.”

Cowsar said the Internet safety classes were as “essential as reading, writing and arithmetic,” because many children regularly visit gaming and social networking Web sites.

“We teach kids not to talk to strangers at Wal-Mart from the time they are three years old,” Cowsar said. “We want them to understand there are strangers just like that on the Internet, too.”