The 4 Best Internet Safety Lesson Plans for Middle School

Middle school students today need to learn about Internet safety.

With social media, malicious websites, and phishing scams all over the Internet, middle school students need to learn how to keep themselves (and their loved ones) safe from digital threats.

That’s why Internet safety lesson plans are so important.

On this page, we’ll cover the four best Internet safety lesson plans you can use to prep your middle school students for real-life threats:

  1. Digital responsibility
  2. Digital citizenship
  3. Web research
  4. Computing systems

 

There’s no overstating the importance of these lessons. Internet safety is a key part of digital literacy.

From cyberbullying to identify theft and beyond, every middle school student should know how to keep themselves safe when using the Internet!

1. Digital Responsibility

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Digital responsibility teaches students how to behave safely and intelligently online.

Much like the old saying “think before you speak,” digital responsibility lessons teach students to think before they act on the Internet. 

Digital responsibility mostly revolves around eliminating distractions and staying focused in the 21st Century.

The lessons teach students about all of the time-wasters they could encounter when they’re trying to get their work done.

Social media, games, videos, and instant messaging are all culprits when it comes to wasting students’ time.

Focus requires students to resist the temptation to share things online and check up on their friends.

The results are all excellent. Once students better understand how they’re distracted, they can stick to their goals and complete tasks.

It’s important to note students can still get distracted online after completing these lessons. Ultimately, it’s up to each individual whether they allow themselves to be distracted from their work.

Still, students have a better chance of completing their work once they can identify, evaluate, and avoid distractions themselves.

But distractions are just the beginning. To stay safe online, students need to understand the digital world in a larger context.

2. Digital Citizenship

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Digital citizenship shows students the ins and outs of digital communications, ethics, and online protection, among other ideas.

These lessons are directly related to Internet safety. So while digital responsibility teaches students how to work online, digital citizenship teaches them about what happens when they use the Internet.

Once students understand how the Internet works, they can understand when and why they’re at risk.

This is especially true for the concept of the “digital footprint.”

A digital footprint is the information that someone leaves behind whenever they act online.

So when a student sets up an account on a social media website, they leave a footprint when they sign up with an email address.

When students enter bank account information online, they’re leaving a very dangerous footprint behind.

These footprints can add up over time, and most of them never go away.

Addressing this concept means students learn about potentially dangerous Internet behavior from using offensive language in social media to avoiding public WiFi networks.

In other words, students learn to protect themselves in two ways:

  1. They post online as if they’re speaking in front of their parents
  2. They minimize risk by steering clear of sketchy hardware, false promises, and too-good-to-be-true deals

With all of this in mind, students can become responsible and mature digital citizens with no chance of losing valuable information online.  

3. Web Research

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Web research demonstrates how students should locate, identify, and use information that they find online.

This includes everything from understanding URL structure to understanding copyright information.

This information helps students stay safe by protecting their future selves. So when they find information online, they’ll credit the source to avoid plagiarism.

When they find a song or video they like, they’ll be able to follow the copyright so they don’t get sued for using it.

Plus, web research helps students find reliable and credible sources of information online. That way, they don’t get sucked into conspiracy theories, unfounded claims, or outright lies.

In a nutshell, web research encourages students to think critically about the information they consume.

Even if it comes from a source they’ve come to trust, they can use web research strategies to evaluate information for themselves.

This keeps students safe from misinformation. While that may not sound like a big deal, the Internet has become a safe haven for lies.

Those lies could be small or big, and depending on the context, they could lead to violence.

With that in mind, it’s crucial that middle school students today learn how to research ideas online. The same strategies will carry over into their everyday life to make them better thinkers.  

4. Computing Systems

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Computing systems shows middle schoolers how the world of digital information really works.

This is one of the most underrated lessons in an Internet safety curriculum in terms of importance. When most teachers think of computer hardware, they don’t think of safety.

Instead, they probably think of information technology professionals.

But every middle school student should have a strong understanding of how computers “talk” via the Internet.

For example, almost everyone knows what “identity theft” is these days. More to the point, most people know that identity theft happens most frequently online through scams like phishing.

Very few people know how that information travels from one place to another, though. If they did, they may not be able to prevent identity theft after they’ve lost their information.

But they could try to track it.

After all, like we said earlier, everyone leaves a digital footprint online. That includes scam artists.

So in this regard, students learn about computing systems in a way that lets them understand the flow of information.

Then, in the off-chance they ever need to know where their information is going, they can have some idea of how to figure it out.

In a big-picture sense, it’s also important that middle school students understand computing systems because these students are digital natives. They were born into a connected world, and they’ve never known anything else.

That level of connection will only increase over the next few years. If today’s students are going to stay at the forefront of that technology (and the career opportunities it brings), they’ll need to understand computing systems.

Teach Internet Safety in Middle School with Digital Curriculum

Do you want to help your students stay safe online?

With the AES digital curriculum system, you can teach all of the lessons listed above and then some!

It comes with a built-in LMS, automatic grading, and other time-saving features that keep your students on track without making you work 12 hours per day.

Wouldn’t it be great to have your evenings and weekends back?

Check out this demo of the curriculum system to see if it’s right for you!

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