Thursday, November 17, 2005


There are a lot of new terms which have been created because of these new technologies so we begin with a short glossary.

Follow responsible safety practices yourself:

Install spyware and adware blocking software on your computer.
Make sure you have a working firewall.
Install anti-virus software and update it regularly.
Take advantage of spam-blocking tools offered by your Internet provider or e-mail software
-taken from:

"The average teen spends 13 hours a week watching TV 16 HOURS ONLINE!"
-Chuck Favata, Holland Middle School Teacher


There are so many resources for parents and kids to learn about internet safety. The following list of URLs is a good place to start. Copy an address and paste it into your browser address window to get to the site.



Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Good Kids Can Make Bad Decisions

A parent and teacher can give today's teens a lot of information about safety on the internet, but students can make poor decisions while on the internet. Keep your kids safe by educting them about your home rules, just as we do about school rules for using the internet. Set time limits. Find a filter that will do what you want it to do.

Read the history. If you suspect that your kids have been to inappropriate web sites, you can quickly check by opening the history tab on the left side of Internet Explorer. You can see the list of web sites visited on each day listed. Don't be alarmed if you find something, middle school kids are naturally curious. The repeated visits to inappropriate sites is cause for further family discussion.

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Blogs - Students are writing! The topics need to be moderated, but the fact that kids want to write and be creative is fantastic. Encourage your child to create a family blog for all the members of your extended family to communicate with one another. It can be private, so the general public cannot enter comments. If let unmoderated, kids will put their phone numbers, and a lot of personal information about who they are and what they are doing. Some of the activities are fantasy life, some are real. Many students post their own photo or photos of friends. This is not a very smart thing to do.

IM - Teens are mostly worried about being accepted by their peers. Some are very shy and communicating by instant message may be the way they can easily talk to other students. The fun of IM is being online with several friends at the same time. When I surveyed my students, they confessed that they can IM 5 - 10 people at the same time! Be sure to know your students' password, so you can turn on archive. That will save the IM conversations and you can read them later if you are worried about what is being said. Also, you can limit the time your teen is online if you have AOL, and can set preferences to "only allow IM to people on my Buddy list".

Phone - If you have one house phone and basic service, then teens can monopolize the time if you do not set restrictions. We agree in our home especially to no talking at dinner time. That is our special time together and we do not answer the phone during that time. Cell phones and extended home plans offer many ways for kids to talk to their peers. Most are OK if you talk about the limits and set some rules.

Cell phones - First of all you must ask yourself "why does my child need a cell phone anyway"? Once you wrestle with that and the cost of the plan, know what you have agreed to. Basic cell phone coverage does not include text messaging. It is an extra fee per message sent AND RECEIVED. Once you teen discovers that mode of conversation, the phone will not be out of their hand. Find out what your cell phone plan is and communicate that and the rules for it to your child. Note that cell phones are not to be used during the school day and will be confiscated by the staff. If they are necessary, then they should be turned off and left in a students locker.

Picture/video phones -I can't think of an educational reason why any student would need a picture or video phone during the school day. The danger of these little gadgets comes when they are used inappropriately such as changing rooms, or taking video in a locker room and then posting it on the web.

Digital Cameras and camcorders - Kids are very knowledge about using this equipment for great purpose, family events, vacations, school projects, etc. The photos I have seen online of kids are appalling. Some are direct face photos, some are posed a specific way and others are totally inappropriate for public viewing.

PDA - If you have a PDA in your home or your students has their own and it connects to the internet, be sure to be in control of the passwords and install virus and/or filtering software there too. Very few students have pdas, but those that do in our school are not allowed to be connected to our network. For some students the pda is a good tool when monitored properly.

How do our kids communicate?

Today's adolescent and teens are communicating in ways we never had access to at their age. They use chat rooms, IM, email, beaming from palm pilots or other PDAs(personal digital assistant) 3-way phone conversations, caller ID, call waiting, text messaging, blogging podcasting, video conferenceing, video mail and more ways are invented daily. Many students have access to digital cameras and camcorders at their home and take advantage of good use of this technology. As a parent and teacher I have decided to embrace these technologies at my home, setting restrictions as necessary. There are so many things to control, so have a conversation with your kids about the rules for things listed above. If you have any other ways kids communicate that are not listed above, add your input with the comment link below.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Digital Books

Digital books can come in many different formats. They could be electronic to be read on your computer just like a word document, palm pilot, or read to you by the simulated speech built in to many computers. Another format is audio books whereby they are like music recording, only they are the spoken word of the book. Many audio books are read by the author, or celebrities. Audio books may be purchased online, or at book store chains like Boarders or B&N. The format is usually CD or cassette(boys there is an older technology!)

When researching digital media, you need to determine a few things before downloading:
-where will you play the download (iPod, computer, palm or pda, burn to CD to play in car or CD player, MP3 player)
-what software do I need(usually a free download too) to eread or listen to the audio book?
-how much room will it take on my reader/player
-how do I want to store the document(hard drive, burn to CD, download to MP3 player etc
-is there a cost?

There are many libraries that are making their classic works available for download for free. At the University of Virginia the top two downloads are: 1. AesopFables 4,656 downloads and 2.Lewis Carroll Alice in Wonderland (illustrated)4,212. There is a growing market for electronic books, magazines and older print material has been converted.

Chester County Library Audio Books

Create your own eBooks:

eBook Reader Software for the Palm:

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Filtering software?

There are many types of filtering software, and the one you use depends on the options you want and what you want to block. some of the more popular software can be found at:

Internet filter review:

Educate yourself

What is our curriculum?

To get an idea of what our students are learning here at CFPMS go to:

Students will have an understanding of basic Internet terminology.
Students will be able to use keyword searching techniques.
Students will learn how to move information from the Internet to a work processing document.
Students will learn how to move graphics from the Internet to a work processing document.
Students will learn how to cite information they retrieve from the Internet.
Students will understand how to connect to their server folder and save work.
Students will know how to retrieve their work from the server.
Students will be Introduced to the concept of personal internet safety, privacy, cyber relationships, cyber citizenship, good citizen. cyber bullying and intellectual property.
Students will have discussions on copyright issues in reference to music, print and intellectual property.

After learning the above concepts:
-Students will apply their searching skills by creating a one page document about a state, national park, or president, with text, graphics and web citations.
-Students will be instructed on how to access their personal folder on the server
-Students will learn the rules about server folders
-Teach students how to copy/paste graphics onto a document with the ability to move items around the document easily.
-Students will use their knowledge of copyright to find photos which are legal to use in their project
Projects should be printed to the color printer for display in the classroom on their team.

Chat Rooms

Some sites like AOL say that their chat rooms are monitored. I do not know how they can monitor all of the hundreds of chat rooms they offer on their site. If you allow your student to be involved in chat rooms, then you should set parameters for chatting with others. Live chats are always risky since you cannot control who jumps in and attempts to communicate with your student or screen what they chat about. The best advice is NO to chat rooms until they are old enough to understand the implications of others interrupting their conversations with their friends.

If you are still unsure, just open Google and type in chat rooms and you will see many topics they can use. That should help you make up your mind.

Also be sure to share the following with your son/daughter:
• Never agree to meet in person anyone met online
• Never give out any personal information
• Never “Talk”/chat to an unknown screen name
• Never call on the phone anyone you have met online
• Never give out information to a CALLER
• Never give your school’s name
• Never fill the the profile
• Never tell your location - state, town, street - etc.
• Never “Allow People to Search for Me” in IM
• Never give out your email address
• Never put friends’ names in your profile
• Never talk P2P or send a file to a “screen name”

Where is your computer?

Many homes today have at least one computer connected to the internet. In your home, where is the computer located? Current experts say that the computer should be in a public area in your home where you can see the screen. Go in once in a while and ask what the student is doing on the internet and take an interest by asking them to show you something they have learned. Establish confidence in their decisions about using the internet safely.

Placing a computer in the family room, or basement family area is probably a good idea if that is where you spend most of your time. The key idea is supervision of the screen. You do not have to be POS(parent over shoulder), just across the room, where you can see the interaction of activity. I have known families to make their dining room into the computer room if they have more than one computer in their home.

Computers with internet access should not be placed in a child's room or in a room where there is no parental supervision. If you have a Palm Pilot(or other PDA-personal digital assistant) that has network access, put a password on it so kids cannot surf the web from the palm.

If you have X-box live connected to the internet, unplug the wireless connection at the X-Box when not in use.
Sit and listen to the conversations which occur while kids are playing X-Box LIVE. Even though your child may be playing with kids he/she knows, others can interrupt their game and say anything/uncensored to your child. Learn and teach them how to have private games.

Log in names or Buddy name

My kids use AOL am I protected from unwanted sites?
Be sure to use the parental control section and make your children designated as kids or teen users to block certain sites.
My kids can get to Internet Explorer when I have AOL. DonĂ‚’t have Explorer on your computer, OR find out if you can block it from teen/kid use. I don't know all the exact settings for AOL, so if you have specific questions, call them or email them a question.

Get to know your child's login name and the screen name of their friends. Screen names are becoming more and more profane. Encourage your child to choose a log in or buddy name that will not reveal if they are a male or female, adult or child. If they love soccer, don't use soccerkid 2233, or soccergirl, use something like soccer2233, or soccerplyr2233. A combination of nonsense letters and numbers is best such as A34c7x14z0. Don not let your student use their year of birth in their buddy name such as soccer92. Of course using their name is totally inappropriate like Suzie92. This is the number one way online predators seek their victims. Changing your child's name to something generic would be wise.

We tell kids all the time not to communicate with strangers, but in the online world, they really do not always know who is there talking with them. Remember there are over 76 million users of the internet. Which means your child has access to all of them, but even more alarming, all 76 million have access to yochild. YouYou are the administrator of the computer. You need to have full access to all users and their passwords.

Sharing your toys?

Sharing music is illegal in any form. Buring CD’s for a friend is a violation of copyright policy. Downloading music from the internet without paying for it can lead to trouble. Make sure your child has NOT set up your computer to be SHARED on the internet. If it is shared, others can access your computer files, music, personal information including any tax or bank files, or identification you have saved on your computer. I have read stories about people who are prosecuted for distributing music and receive big fines from the music industry.

The basics of copyright law allows you to make ONE archive copy of software for your own purpose. This is not to lend to others, or to give away. Technically, if you have two computers in your home, you need to purchase Microsoft Office(or other software) for each computer!

If your family has an mp3 player or an iPod, you can place your entire CD collection on the computer and transfer it to the player legally. There are many copyright web sites which can answer your specific questions about legally using your own music.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Glossary of Terms

blog or weblog - online journal of a persons choice of topic (Xanga,, The blog page can have photos, music, text ramblings about their school day, home life, or fantasy life they can create. Weblogs can be a good thing when monitored. If your family is on an extended vacation and keeps an online journal, photos etc, you can share them with other family members at home. If a parent is traveling for an extended time, it would be another way to keep in touch with kids or family about what they are doing.

chat room - online access by membership to talk to other people. AOL has chat,, most IM sites have chat.

IM - Instant Message - You must have a membership, which can be FREE, to send real time messages to others. You create a user name, do not use your real name, to communicate with others.

mp3 - a compression style which allows audio files to be transferred over the internet. You can also compress you own CD music into an mp3 format to burn onto a disc. At this rate, you can fit about 90 songs on a CD.

mp3 player - a small device which can play compressed audio files. iPod, Nano, iRiver, Zen, Creative are all examples of different types of mp3 players.

news aggregator or feed - this program allows you to subscribe to the rss feeds delivered by various sites. For example if you use NewsGator as your aggregator, you can insert the rss feed address and you will receive daily or hourly news updates directly to your computer.

podcast - An audio recording which is posted on a web site which may be downloaded and played on a portable music player or on the computer through iTunes.

rss - (Really Simple Syndication) designed for distributing information updates from your web page. If your web site has an RSS feed, then others may "subscribe" and get automatic updates of your information. For example, you may "subscribe" to any web site which has RSS at the end of the address bar, such as the illustrated here.

spyware - (from: Spyware is a broad category of malicious software intended to intercept or take partial control of a computer's operation without the user's informed consent. While the term taken literally suggests software that surreptitiously monitors the user, it has come to refer more broadly to software that subverts the computer's operation for the benefit of a third party.

Wikipedia - ( free encyclopedia that anyone can edit.
In this English version, started in 2001, we are currently working on 792,006 articles. Because anyone can edit the pages, some of the information may not be valid. Use this resource carefully.

Many of these definitions are taken from the NetSmartz page at: