Digital Citizenship and Internet Safety

For about 5 years, I have been giving assemblies at many of our district’s elementary schools on digital citizenship and internet safety. Several times, I have been asked to share the presentations which have been modified from NetSmartz presentations. NetSmartz has given me the okay to share (links at the end of this post).

NOTE: Having a one-off assembly is only a starting point and should not be the only strategy used to handle this issue. Check out “How to Stop Bullying in Schools” by Megan Holohan for more tips on what works and what doesn’t.

NetSmartz character saying

Each year, I try to change them up a little, adding anecdotes or new tips. They are in 3 categories: Transitional Kindergarten through 1st grade (15-20 minutes), 2nd and 3rd grade (about 20 minutes), and then 4th – 6th grade (about 30 minutes) with sometimes an extra time with just 6th.

Some tips:

  • Accept now that you CANNOT stop all bullying! Your child, your student, even YOU will probably be bullied at some point. I can still remember the girl who teased me in elementary school, where we were, what she was wearing, and what she said to me. I was not (and still am not) a fashion maven, but back then, we had moved from small towns in the Midwest to Southern California and did not have a lot of money.
  • Words have power. Please never say they don’t. When you remember the full name of an 8 year old classmate decades later, words have power. I read that there should be 5 or more positive comments to negative comments. Aim to be the one on the positive side of that ratio.

So what can you do?

Be a presence in children’s lives. Encourage them to speak up (diplomatically, when possible) if they see something wrong. Allow them to ask questions. Teach them how to handle a bully. Role play.

During the assemblies, I ask for 2 volunteers and make one of them “the bully” (often the smaller of the 2 since bullies are usually portrayed as bigger). Next, I ask “the bully” to show the group a mean face. (This often involves growling or giggling.) Then I walk “the victim” through how to respond.

  • “Can you ask them to stop?” Yes.
  • “Does that work?” No.
  • “Could you walk away?” Yes, but they might follow.

Next step, I whisper to the student to walk towards their teacher and tell the other to follow. “Is the bully going to continue now?” No! “Why not?” Because there is a teacher! Walk towards a teacher, a staff member, a parent volunteer, or, if you can’t find an adult, I tell the primary students to find the tallest 6th grader (and let the teachers know that I’ll be telling the 6th graders about it at their assembly so they aren’t surprised if small children suddenly stand next to them.)

This is also a fun moment to role play how students REALLY approach their teacher: “TEACHER! TEACHER! TEACHER!” Try to infuse some lighthearted moments so the assembly doesn’t feel like all doom and gloom. I ask them if their parents like when they tug on them and say, “Mom Mom Mom Mommmmmm” or “Dad Dad Dad Dadddddddddd” to get their attention. The students always laugh and shake their heads no.

Next, I give them a few more options. Compliment the bully! It will often surprise them and render them speechless so you can walk away. Bullies probably don’t feel good about themselves so pay them a compliment. It is really hard to say something negative when being complimented. Brooks Gibbs has a great YouTube video to illustrate this (starts at the 3:44 mark until the end). 

For the last option, I tell the students that me giving assemblies isn’t going to stop bullying. Even adults have to deal with bullying so the goal is to give them response skills. I let them know that though I can’t stop the bullying, but they can! If you see bullying happening, step in and try the steps above. If you don’t feel strong enough to stand up to the bully, just ignore them and invite your friend to walk over to a game or activity. If the bully follows, head towards a grownup.

In summary:

  • Ask them to stop.
  • Walk away.
  • Walk towards an adult.
  • Smile and compliment the bully.
  • Or, if none of those work, hopefully a peer steps up to assist.

pile of Halloween candy Another area we discuss is using the internet. The internet is amazing, but I compare it to a bowl of Halloween candy. Some candy you love, others… not so much, and too much of it can make you sick. Find those pieces that you enjoy and avoid the others!

What's the difference between an online-only friend and a face to face friend? clipart from Phillip Martin ClipartA few weeks ago, I presented at my young nephew’s school. We talked about being safe online and not talking to strangers. If you wouldn’t do it in person, don’t do it online. I give them an example: Would you stand in the middle of the park and shout your name, age, where you live? Then don’t do it online!

During Easter dinner, my adult niece asked how I met my friend, Bonnie, who was coming to visit from out of state. “Online.” I quickly learned that my young nephew had been paying CLOSE attention during the assembly. “Auntie! You said NOT to meet people online!” Oops. I was busted. To clarify, Bonnie and I met about 20 years ago in an online forum for a Disney game. She worked security at the parks (which I was able to verify online) and knew I was a teacher. We chatted online and finally met in person about 10 years later at Disneyland, a very public place, and we were both adults so I stand by my recommendation to children about meeting people online, but do internally laugh a bit, especially now.

Parents often ask if I talk about sexting. Yes, elementary students have had issues with this! It’s sad and scary so, yes, I do address it, but from a different angle thanks to a colleague’s idea. I put up this picture of a young girl with a GIANT snot bubble.

young girl with a giant snot bubble coming out of her nose

This definitely gets their attention. I found this image online marked with Creative Commons rights which means someone posted this picture! We talk about pictures that may seem funny to share with friends, but what if you aren’t friends in a few weeks? Or what about in a few years when you both like the same person? Guess what is going to be shared!

If you take a picture you want to share, SHOW it to your friends, don’t SEND it. That way, you retain control of the image. Once you send an image, you cannot take it back and you no longer get to decide who sees it. This often opens up a discussion that they may want to have with their parents about posting pictures. (Think of how your child would feel about that picture in 10 years, 20 years before posting it.)

Hopefully, this will give you some ideas to talk to your children and/or students. I’ve included the presentation links and other resources that I recommend. If you have any questions, feel free to DM me on Twitter @filibuster3.

Below are the links to my 2018-2019 PowerPoint presentations (note, some fonts may be different on your device and need reformatting):

UPDATE: Due to COVID-19 school closures, I wasn’t able to get to all the school sites this year so I’ve started doing voiceovers and posting the presentations to YouTube.


Recently, in an ISTE discussion, @belmedia shared these resources which I found SPOT ON!

When Kids Realize Their Whole Life is Already Online (The Atlantic)


Film Club: ‘If you Didn’t ‘Sharent,’ Did You even Parent?’ (The New York Times-Learning Network)

Note: The short film could be used with students or parents. 


I’m 14, and I quit social media after discovering what was posted about me (Fast Company)

My Knee and Its Disneyland Adventure

So a few weeks ago, I (K) slipped and fell down some carpeted stairs and twisted my knee. (UPDATE: Looks like I sprained my MCL and my ACL. Fun times!)

Horrible timing since friends from out of state were coming to visit. They used to work for Disney and invited G and me to go with them to Disneyland for the day.

Knee brace on, ice pack during the drive, ibuprofen in my bag, we were ready to go! I thought this might be a good time to observe accessibility at the park. (Disneyland has a page of accessibility resources for the parks and check out this blog post by Veronica Lewis about audio descriptions at the parks.)

First of all, I chose to wear a knee brace over my jeans to help others know I was a little unstable on my feet. Wheelchairs were available for rental, but I was doing okay walking (it is the bending and unbending that hurts).

(Additional note: We parked in the Toy Story lot which I found convenient, but a family member who has young children commented on the lack of restroom facilities in that parking lot so be aware if using that lot.)

vintage photo of people in a boat on Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disneyland
photo from

Ride number one – Pirates of the Caribbean! Easy boat ride. Should be fine. Others in our group were using ECVs (Electric Conveyance Vehicles AKA scooters) so we went to the alternate entrance. (Being older, the Disneyland queues weren’t exactly built for wheelchairs and scooters, but they have provided alternatives. Many of the rides in California Adventure can accommodate the ECVs and wheelchairs.)

This is where I realized my Disney Day wasn’t going to be all that I hoped. With support rails (and G’s help), I stepped down into the boat. After the ride started, I realized there was no leg room and no way for me to move my leg. I am about 5’9″ and of average size. Even without a knee injury, people might have issues.

ride vehicle on Haunted Mansion
photo from

Next ride. Haunted Mansion. Again, an alternate entrance saved me from standing in line (you get a return time, similar to a fast pass), I was able to navigate a few steps with handrails, and the cars moved slowly enough for me to climb in (again with help from G). Then the Doom Buggy closed to bring the lap bar forward. Again with little leg room. Luckily, G moved his legs to allow me to stretch my injured one. (He’s over 6 feet, but in great shape so, thankfully, we had room.)

The day was a wake up call. We have an aging population who is active longer. (My grandmother spent her 90th birthday at Disneyland, going on the then new Indiana Jones ride and later Splash Mountain – her favorite!) However, at least in America, we also have people who are larger than when Disney was first built. Since 1960, adults are about 1 inch taller, but about 24 pounds heavier on average from data I found on a variety of websites.

While I appreciate the many efforts Disney has made to make their parks accessible, for me, on this day at least, it was not. If you are over 6 feet tall or heavier, the rides may be difficult or less than comfortable.

What is the answer? Well, that is the question because if there were deeper seats on Pirates of the Caribbean, that means less people per boat and longer lines. The lines are already long. Maybe at least one boat in the rotation with less benches? For Haunted Mansion, a few cars with just the bar to keep you in, but not the front piece that traps your legs?

For me, I enjoyed the shows, the displays, the themed areas, but missed out on my favorites like Buzz Lightyear’s Astro Blasters or the train around the park since I wasn’t sure if there would be seats with leg room available. I also came away with a fresh understanding of missing out. Hopefully, my knee will be back to normal soon, but not everyone has that option. Leg room on planes, in cars, on rides is a daily issue for many and, sadly, I don’t see it changing any time soon.

By the way, in case you were curious, what was my grandmother’s reaction to the Indiana Jones ride? “I don’t think I’ll go on Mr. Jones’ ride again.” LOL!




I Question So I Can Understand

Recently, someone said to me that they thought something I said was critical. It truly wasn’t meant to be. I had questions about something I was having trouble understanding and so I asked questions. Is it a cultural thing that asking questions has become questioning someone (or something) instead of a search for a better understanding? How many times have we assumed that someone was questioning us when they were simply asking questions?

Where is the fine line between asking questions and questioning and is there a solid line or is it interpretive, is it subjective, is it determined by the speaker or the listener? How can we be better communicators? First of all, for me, whether it was because I grew up with brothers or whether it was because I grew up in a household where questions were encouraged, I ask questions. I know that sometimes those questions can get irritating to some. I sense it and see it, but by not questioning, I miss out on a full understanding that I feel I need. So when we look at topics such as neurodiversity, how much of acceptance needs to be in understanding that people have different personalities or different needs or just different interests?

If you are an inquisitive person, a questioner like me, what do you do? One thing I would suggest is hopefully having people around you who are willing to ask if you meant to be critical. Generally, it would help if it was interpreted more often as not being critical, but as a search for understanding.

If you are inquisitive person, chances are you were also fairly honest and forthright when you’re speaking. So I say this, if you feel that someone is being critical, ask them. Ask them if their intention in questioning was to be critical. For me, being a fairly open person, if I’m being critical, I usually am okay with saying that because my fear is others may walk away feeling criticized when that is rarely my intention.