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Kids and teens should read and write even when they are out of school. Why is this so important?

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ReadWriteThink has a variety of resources for out-of-school use. Visit our Parent & Afterschool Resources section to learn more.

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Activity

Creating a Safe Online Profile

 

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Creating a Safe Online Profile

Grades 9 – 12
Activity Time 60 to 90 minutes (can be completed over several days)
Activity Author

Traci Gardner

Traci Gardner

Blacksburg, Virginia

 
Publisher National Council of Teachers of English
 

What You Need

Here's What To Do

More Ideas To Try

Glossary

 

What You Need

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Here's What To Do

  1. Before beginning this activity, review the Child Safety on the Information Highway booklet to learn the basic issues involved with online safety.
  2. Ask the teenager to share different names that he or she uses (e.g., formal name, nickname, abbreviated name); and ask the teen to discuss how the names relate to the people and places where they are used.
  3. Share the three following e-mail addresses, all used by the same person, with the teen:

    • jlfinch@maycomb.k12.al.us
    • scout@southernnet.com
    • boogirl@hotmail.com
  4. Work with the teenager to identify what they can tell about the person just by looking at the e-mail addresses. Ask the teen to tell you what he or she notices first, and then share any additional things you noticed. The following observations are likely for the e-mail addresses:

    • The person's name is probably J. L. Finch.
    • The person is probably at a public school in a city or county named Maycomb in Alabama.
    • The person is probably somewhere in the south.
    • The person is probably a girl/woman.
    • The name Scout might mean that the person is a Girl or Boy Scout or that the person is a wilderness scout.
    • The word Boo is a term of endearment in the south, so the word may refer to a family member or friend.
  5. Once the teen understands how online names can reveal personal details explain that he or she will choose and explain a specific name to use online. In addition the teen will choose details for a profile for this online name.
  6. If you want to provide more details on online safety, share the Child Safety on the Information Highway booklet with the teen, either reading parts of it together or pointing out important details.
  7. Ask the teen to choose a personal, non-school-related online name. If the teen is choosing a name to actually use, focus on the specific situation. Otherwise share one of these scenarios that the teen can think about while choosing a name:

    • Imagine that your city is part of an Internet initiative that is providing online access for schools, town buildings, and libraries. Every citizen in the town can use the system. Those who want to participate will apply for a login/e-mail address that they can use for full Internet access.
    • Imagine your family is signing up for a new Internet service provider, and you get to choose your own e-mail address. You can use the e-mail for anything you want-family, school, and friends.
    • Imagine that you are creating a Yahoo! login so you can join an online group for a hobby or special interest of yours. You will use the login as your e-mail address for the group as well as for your screen name in the related chat room.
  8. Give the teen a copy of the Online Name Form and read through the Online Profile Tips together. Emphasize the safety tips and discuss examples of information that is appropriate to share.
  9. Together choose at least 5 categories from the Online Profile Tips for the teen's online profile from the Tips sheet.
  10. Have the teen complete the Online Name Form. The teen can work alone, or you can work through the form together.
  11. After the form is complete (or as the teen completes it, if you are working together), review the choices with the following questions in mind:

    • Is the name address safe and appropriate?
    • What can you tell about the teen from the name?
    • Does the profile include any specific names or addresses?
    • What can you tell about the teen from the profile information?
    • Does the name and profile create a safe online persona?
  12. Discuss any changes that would make the name and profile more safe and appropriate.
  13. Have the teen transfer the agreed-upon information into the Profile Publisher online tool to simulate a digital environment and validate the appropriateness of his or her choices. See the Profile Publisher Tool page for more ideas.

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More Ideas To Try

  • NetSmartz provides online resources on Internet safety for children and teens. The site was created by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. The site includes resources that can be used online as well as printable materials that can be used in non-digital settings.

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Glossary

Online profile

 

A person’s representation of him- or herself on an Internet site.

Persona

 

The personality an Internet user adopts when online.

Think critically

 

To think both logically and creatively about a topic using different kinds of information. When people think critically, they not only attend to new words and ideas, but they also connect these words and ideas with the things they already know.

Audience

 

The person or group of people that the message of a piece of writing is meant for. Most pieces of writing have more than one audience.

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