Teaching Safe Text

Dec 15, 2010

Concerns surrounding children and teens sending sexual messages, nude photos and videos via text messaging is on the rise, yet the vast majority of kids are unaware of the short-term costs and the long-term ramifications associated with their actions. Since adolescents are less inhibited by technology, it’s important they are aware of the risks and know how to deal with situations these new technologies present.

While some teachers have introduced safe texting education, there is definitely a gap in the delivery of comprehensive text education programming in schools.

To address this, the Canadian Centre for Child Protection developed the textED.ca program, which consists of an innovative and interactive new website and a series of associated lesson plans for teachers to use with their Grade 7 students. Importantly, all of the lessons are tied to provincial curriculum outcomes, making them ideal for use in classrooms right across the country.

From learning how to deal with textual harassers to helping teens deal with stress or a break-up, the textED.ca website incorporates games, quizzes, discussion pages, and other fun tools to help them navigate through the issues.

In partnership with the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association, the Canadian Centre launched textED.ca as a four-month pilot project in January 2010. More than 350 Grade 7 classes participated – 1292 users signed on, and 441 teachers signed up for access to the lesson plans.

“Considering the main form of communication for much of today’s generation is through text-messaging, the need for safe-texting education is imperative,” says Lianna McDonald, Executive Director of the Canadian Centre for Child Protection. “There is a shared responsibility to teach our kids how to use this technology safely. Like parents, many teachers are struggling with the issues that arise from this technology. It’s a completely new area they didn’t have to deal with before. TextED.ca will help them address texting in a fun, interactive way.”

Law enforcement officers, dedicated to online child sexual exploitation investigations across the country, have never been as well trained and equipped as they are today. “Even so,” says Det. Sgt. Kim Scanlan with the Toronto Police Services Child Exploitation Unit, “we desperately need parents and young people to be more proactive about their online safety.”

Designed for students in Grade 7 and higher, the website provides a fun, interactive platform for children to learn about the short-term costs and the long-term ramifications associated with texting. The lesson plans help educators teach safe texting and life skills that will allow them to fully benefit from what is now a very public, technological world.

Cell phones – and especially text messaging – have become “one of the most important tools for Canadian families to stay connected and keep safe,” says Bernard Lord, President & CEO of the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association (CWTA). “But it is essential that young people be educated about the appropriate and responsible use.”

All text message fees associated with playing this game have been waived so the game is free to all Canadian users. Thanks go to Canadian wireless service providers: Bell, Fido, Koodo, MTS, SaskTel, Solo, Rogers, TELUS, Vidéotron and Virgin Mobile for waiving fees and for their ongoing support of the Canadian Centre for Child Protection.

© FrontLine Security 2010