Download the handout from my CAJE 32 presentation:

From Carl Frisch:

Staying safe on the web:

The good news is that kids listened to us when we told them not to put their personal information on the web. The bad news is that this is not how predators are preying on adolescents. The Congressional Internet Caucus Advisory Committee and the Internet Education Foundation recently hosted a recent panel discussion on child online safety where researchers stated “The data suggest that the vast majority of young people who are meeting adults online are not deceived and instead, knowingly, at least as knowingly as a young person can, consent to this relationship. And we’re learning that it’s not the sending and posting of personal information that increases one’s risk for victimization online, but rather engaging in sexual conversations they know only online, harassing others online. These behaviors seem to be most strongly associated with increased risk for victimization.” It’s apparent that our obligation, is to teach good decision-making skills and provide a safe place for kids to come when they think they’re involved in an Internet relationship that is dangerous.

What does your web-presence say about you?

There has been a lot of press lately about the lack of Internet privacy. We’re finding that photos that you put on the ‘net and think are deleted are turning up and, in some cases, it’s affected people’s reputations, opportunities for jobs or even whether or not they receive teaching degrees. In 2006, NFTY, the Reform youth movement, made ethical online usage a commitment with their “Welcome to OurSpace” program designed to open up kids’ eyes to the reality that posting on the web has a far-reaching impact. Our kids need to understand that what you post says an awful lot.

Using technology legally and ethically

Are your students illegally downloading music and videos? Many are. Are they using computers to illegally copy CDs and DVDs? Probably. Are they plagiarizing or violating copyright laws when they’re doing research for homework assignments? Perhaps. Is your synagogue always practicing ethical computing – not “borrowing” software or installing software without proper licensing? Maybe… It’s tempting (nobody will find out…) but illegal nonetheless.


Last month the Pew Internet and American Life Project published a memo on Cyberbullying and Online Teens. While more of the teens interviewed stated that they’re more likely to be bullied offline than on, it’s significant that one-third of the teens interviewed who use the Internet say they have experienced some sort of online bullying such as receiving threatening messages, having their private emails or text messages forwarded without consent, having an embarrassing picture posted without permission; or having rumors about them spread online. Bullying is nothing new and certainly can’t be blamed on the Internet, but it seems to much more efficient now due to technology. Rumors can be spread much more quickly, private communications such as emails or IM chat logs are easily forwarded and embarrassing photos are posted and then viewed by dozens of people in short amounts of time. Not only is technology providing a quick way of bullying, the possibility for anonymity is enticing; making it easy for kids to “hide” behind their computer screens.

So, what do we as Jewish educators do about it? We do what we always do, we educate…

Parents. I would guess that many of your parents don’t know what their kids are doing on the Internet and don’t even know about social networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook. Consider hosting a youth panel to talk and teach about their online activities, inviting in a police officer or school social worker to discuss online safety with parents and kids, and encouraging your families to create ground rules for Internet usage.

Everyone – staff, too. You probably have someone in your congregation who is an intellectual property attorney. Consider inviting him/her in to talk about software piracy and copyright infringement. You’d be surprised how little people know about this issue. Develop a zero-tolerance policy about student plagiarizing from the Internet for their d’var torah or about people burning CDs with copyrighted music for bar/bat mitzvah giveaways (yes, that’s illegal, too). They call it piracy for a reason.

Students. Some suggestions for classroom activities using the list of Jewish values. Please email me if you develop a great classroom activity.
  • Choose a value that you like to help you remember how to conduct your online business. How will you use it as a reminder? Possibilities are:
  • Cell-phone start-up screen
  • Computer screen saver
  • Post-it
  • Trigger films. Watch the PSAs “Too Cruel for School” and discuss, relating to Jewish values and texts
  • Create your own PSAs regarding misuse of technology, making sure to relate it to a Jewish value
  • Code of conduct. Work with your students to write a classroom code of conduct regarding technology
  • “Tech for Good” – create a bulletin board devoted to showcasing ways that the Internet and technology are being used for chesed and tikkun olam.

What are our concerns about kids using technology?