Think Before You Click: Campaign for Internet Safety
Students arrive at Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village for their Enrichment Year, and within the first few moments they are exposed to things that many have never really seen before: computers, iPods, mp3 players, cameras, Smartphone’s, the internet and even more simply, fairly reliable access to electricity. For many studetns, Agahozo-Shalom marks the beginning of a relationship with these technologies. From the moment they arrive, students are invited to interact with these tools and many are left to navigate the use of them on their own.
This year, the newly formed Communication Committee in the Village decided to do something to help students navigate these new mediums. After noticing that students were launching themselves fully into Internet research, Facebook, downloading and more, with little formal guidance about how to properly manage themselves in these contexts, the Committee decided that a kind of intervention was necessary. The “Think Before you Click” campaign focuses on empowering staff and adult leadership in the Village to help guide students and encourage them to use good, morally and ethically sound, common sense when utilizing social media and the Internet.
The campaign teaches students to be critical of what they read online and wary of those who contact them. It teaches simple strategies for determining whether a message is truthful or spam. It encourages students to think about their behavior online as a reflection of themselves, noting that much of the behavior demonstrated on the Internet is somewhat public, and it provides students with simple rules of thumb to follow regarding plagiarism and privacy. Perhaps the most important element of the campaign, however, is the emphasis on the import role a parent plays in helping students make good choices. The campaign itself focused on providing tools, information, resources and general knowledge for our Agahozo-Shalom staff in their effort to be strong role models and sources of support in helping students navigate the Internet.
The campaign as a whole has been successful. The Communication Committee developed and implemented training for informal staff to educate mamas, big brothers and sisters, management and others in the Village about the things they can do to help our students. Posters were put up in all computer labs and on bulletin boards both at Liquidnet Family High School and in the Village with the “Think Before You Click” slogan and helpful advice. Mama led conversations in each of their families regarding appropriate online behavior and addressed questions and challenges posed by their sons/daughters. The Committee developed a training that will be implemented in the Life Skills course, which all first year students take. And, all staff was provided with a series of resources that they can continue to refer to when students approach them with questions.
The “Think Before You Click” campaign is one of the more widely visible examples of the hard work the Communication Committee has been engaged in this year to address some of the challenges staff has identified in the Village. We appreciate their efforts and look forward to much more in the coming months!
Submitted by Shira Liff-Grieff, Long-Term Volunteer 2013