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Survey: Parents Look to Teachers for Internet Safety Training

Who's responsible for making sure students get an education in online safety? According to four out of five teachers, parents are relying on the schools too much in this regard. A recent survey by security company AVG of 1,800 teachers around the world also found that 38 percent of teachers said they believe parents don't know enough about online safety to be able to teach their own kids.

Two-thirds of respondents said that schools should provide better training on using the Internet as an educational tool; only 28 percent reported that they've had formal training. Seventy-seven percent added that Internet safety should show up in the syllabus.

Those numbers are fairly consistent with findings among American teachers specifically. Seventy-five percent said they feel that parents are too dependent on teachers to teach Internet safety; 39 percent said they believe that parents lack an understanding about the subject; 68 percent said they think schools should do a better job of training on Internet use; and 70 percent suggested that Internet safety be part of the school syllabus.

Nearly three-quarters of teachers in the United States reported that they have never had formal Internet safety training themselves, even though 86 percent use Web content in the classroom and 40 percent assign online homework assignments.

Some other countries are being more aggressive in teaching online safety to their students. In Brazil 54 percent of teachers teach Internet safety "regularly" and 51 percent have been trained to do so. Eighty percent of Australian schools have guidelines in place for cyberbullying issues and 75 percent have guidelines for dealing with students who view inappropriate content online.

"Today's teachers are not only using the Internet regularly as part of their lessons, they are increasingly having to deal with the wider issues it generates and quite often, without any formal training," said Tony Anscombe, AVG's senior security evangelist. "Given the degree to which the Internet is now used as an education tool, many teachers said their schools have put guidelines in place to deal with the most prevalent issues. The gap is that the majority of teachers had not received any formal training in online safety so these guidelines alone are not sufficient. When one in four teachers have had a child come to them with a cyberbullying issue, it is clear to see why more support is needed."

AVG, with headquarters in Amsterdam, makes a free anti-virus program available and sells additional security-related programs, including Internet security, identity protection and personal privacy. The company also offers two free e-books on online safety for children.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.