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By Elizabeth and Mike Montgomery

The following Links for Learners study guide is based on an article about children and safety on the internet in the St. Anthony Messenger online edition. It is designed for young Catholics, particularly those in high school.

Links for Learners | May 2003

"Protecting Children From Internet Predators"

 

Q U I C K S C A N

Finding Curriculum Connections
Understanding Basic Terms
Lesson Ideas
Exercises to Explore the Topic Further
Internet Resources
Research Resources


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Links for Learning

Finding Curriculum Connections for High School Students and Their Teachers

This month’s Links for Learners will support high school curriculum in:

• Morality & Sexuality—There is such a thing as right and wrong as given to us by God and the Church. The Catholic view of sexuality calls for a healthy and holistic view of the body.

• Catholic Spirituality—seeing Jesus in everyone including ourselves.

• Evangelization—calling someone to recognize Christ in us and in our neighbor.

Understanding Basic Terms in This Month’s Article

Look for these key words and terms as you read the article.  Definitions or explanations can be researched from the article itself, or from the resource materials cited throughout the Link for Learners. 

Internet predator

instinct

pop-ups

US. Attorney General

exploit

IMs & PMs

objectionable

boundaries

online safety

chat rooms

predators

filters

pornography/exploitation

internalize

anonymous

character ethic

pedophile

covenant

sexually explicit material

National Center for Missing and Exploited Children

 

Lesson Ideas

Here are some ideas to help plan or facilitate a learning session on this topic. Adapt them as needed to your situation.

Activity #1
Do
Name the 10 Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17). Have this done either individually or in small groups. Ask the young people to explain each of them. Have them report to the large group.

Ask
Why does God give us boundaries? Why do our parents give us boundaries? Why is it important for us to abide within the boundaries given to us by God or our parents, or even by our own conscience?

Process (using these words or words of your own)
The Ten Commandments were given to us by God to guide us and keep us safe, not to punish us or make our lives boring. Having boundaries on the Internet may have similar results as the commandments. Some Scripture references about God's guidance: Psalm 32:8, Proverbs 3:6.

Take it Home
Have teens create a list of guidelines that they would abide by regarding their own Internet usage. Start by asking for some examples. A list is provided below, for some ideas.

1. Computers with Internet access should always be located in a public area in the home such as the family room.
2. Never give out your full name or any personal information to anyone you have met on the Internet. This includes someone you think you might know from a few hours of Internet chatting.
3. When possible, place settings to prevent instant messages from unknown parties.
4. Talk to no one over the age of 18 online.
5. If anyone uses any language in a conversation that makes you feel uncomfortable, stop the conversation and block further correspondence.
6. Only open e-mails from senders you recognize.
7. If using an Internet filter and a site containing pornographic material pops up, report the site to your parents and the filter provider.
8. Create healthy time limits for Internet usage.
9. Never send pictures without parental permission.
10. If someone asks you to keep a certain conversation a secret, it is wise not to listen.

Activity #2
Do
Look up some of the Covenants made between God and his people. (Some Scriptural examples of Covenants: Genesis 9:1-17, Genesis 22: 1-18, Matthew 26: 17-29.) Ask the small group to explain the meaning of each. Have them report back to the large group or to create a skit to illustrate the Covenant.

Ask
Would God or my parents approve of what I'm doing on the Internet? What are the main reasons I use the Internet? How much time am I online? Has my Internet usage changed my life positively or negatively? Explain. How could making a covenant about my Internet usage help me?

Process (using these words or words of your own)
A covenant is an agreement made between two or more parties. It is more than a contract. It is more like a vow made in love and never to be broken. Having a covenant on Internet usage between teens and their parents can help us love and respect each other as well as God.

Take it Home
Have teens create an Internet Usage Covenant among them, their parents and God. The Covenant might be a very simple statement printed out and signed by each party.


Activity #3
Do
Have teens create and then role-play a realistic situation in which a teen chooses to express his or her sexuality in an unhealthy way. Then have members of the group recreate the scene in a healthy way reflective of a Christian.

Ask
What actions do we take that weaken or dismantle our character? Would everyone still be proud of me if they knew what I did in secret? What are proper uses of our sexuality? What does God, Scripture and the Church teach about sexual relationships? What does the Church teach about pornography?

Process (using these words or words of your own)
Our sexuality is a gift from God that we are called to share in order to reflect God's love. This is not only physical but verbal as well. Internet communication can create a false intimacy because of anonymity. One may feel safe to say anything because people only know us as a screen name. Sometimes we feel so safe we share thoughts that we have not shared even with our own families. Some Scripture references about God's asking us to keep our bodies pure include: 1 Corinthians 6:13, 1 Corinthians 6:18 - 20, 1 Thessalonians. 4:3-8. Also, look at the Catechism of the Catholic Church paragraph numbers 2331-2337, 2351-2354.


Take it Home
Have the teens reflect upon an Examination of Conscience, perhaps contained within the context of a guided meditation on the subject of sexuality.

Have the teens write a letter to God asking forgiveness for a time they have not treated their body as a temple of the Holy Spirit. Encourage them to go to the Sacrament of Reconciliation taking their letter with them if they wish.


Exercises to Explore the Topic Further

Create discussions around some of the following questions from the article.

Do parents violate a teenagers' First Amendment Rights if they limit their freedom of speech? The quick answer is no. Explain.

Should schools, universities or libraries use filters to prevent sex talk in chat rooms or access to pornography? Keep in mind, major universities are now starting to consider blocking pornography in order to help protect their students from becoming addicts.

Have the teens make a list of their 10 favorite Web sites. Then have them explain why they put those sites on their list and what they enjoy about the sites.


Internet Resources

Christian site from Focus On the Family, reviews filters, listed in the article.
www.filterreview.com

This is a great site to report suspicious or illegal activity or the net listed in the article.
www.cybertipline.com

Review of Internet filter resources with helpful articles.
www.internetfilterreview.com

Very good article for a parent, teacher or teens who want to prevent being assaulted by unwanted e-mail, pop-ups, IM's or PM's.
www.internetfilterreview.com/tricks-pornographers-play.html

Buy filtering software like www.netnanny.com.

Choose an Internet service provider (ISP) that does the filtering
automatically. For instance, www.catholiconline.com.

Use a filtering search engine like Google "Safe Search."
http://www.google.com/help/customize.html#safe

Information on how to set up the Content Advisor (parental controls) in Internet Explorer to work with the Internet Content Rating Association.
http://www.icra.org/_en/faq/contentadvisor/#CONFIG

 

Research Resources

Try accessing some of these Internet sources for further general reference.  Be aware, however, that some of these sites may charge for downloading articles contained within the site’s archives.

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

The New American Bible

Documents of Vatican II 

The Vatican

The New York Times

The Los Angeles Times

The Chicago Tribune

The Washington Post

The Miami Herald

The Associated Press

Time Magazine

CNN

MSNBC

ABC News

Pathfinder—Access site to a number of online news publications

People magazine

The History Channel

The Close Up Foundation Washington, D.C.-based organization

Channel One —online resource for the school channel


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