It’s that time of year again. I went over our Responsible Use Policy with the 6th, 7th, and 8th graders, and they were tasked with returning a signed copy before they can access and use their school laptops.
I always reinforce that everything they put online is public, permanent, and traceable. Plus, I remind not to imagine they have privacy online. Rather than public versus private, I say public versus less-public.
I also implore the middle schoolers to locate at least one person, preferably a grown-up and possibly me, who they can approach if they feel unsafe or uncomfortable as a result of someone else’s behavior (be it physical or virtual). My sister sent me a link to an article about a 12-year old girl in Florida who recently took her own life after being severely bullied in-school and online. It’s so incredibly depressing and pointless and horrible.
We crafted our Responsible Use Policy here at The School to cover behavior that occurs both on-campus and off-campus. The policy includes the following points:
• I will always use school technology with consideration and respect for others and myself.
• I will not eat food or drink beverages while working with electronic devices.
• I will be responsible for my device’s whereabouts at all times. If I am not using my device, I will return it to a charging station or its proper place.
E-mail and Communication
• I will use electronic mail only for school-related purposes. I will never use abusive or profane language in public or private messages.
• I will not access my personal e-mail account, social networking sites, or personal instant messaging software from any school computer.
• I will not use others’ names or passwords.
• I will ask a teacher for permission before I download or install anything from the Internet.
• I will keep my network and electronic mail account passwords private.
• I will use teacher-approved software when given permission at appropriate times.
• I will not illegally copy or download software or media (games, MP3s, etc.)
• I will not shop online or make any purchases using a school device.
• I will not visit inappropriate websites. Teachers and administrators will determine appropriateness.