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In developing practices to ensure safe and responsible Internet use by students, teachers and administrators must be aware of, and implement as required, the relevant laws. 

  • Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) - The Children's Online Privacy Protection Act, effective April 21, 2000, applies to the online collection of personal information from children under 13 years of age by persons or entities under U.S. jurisdiction. It details what a website operator must include in a privacy policy, when and how to seek verifiable consent from a parent or guardian, and what responsibilities an operator has to protect children's privacy and safety online, including restrictions on marketing to those under 13. 
  • Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA) - The Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA) was enacted by Congress in 2000 to address concerns about children's access to obscene or harmful content over the Internet.  Schools and libraries subject to CIPA must have an Internet safety policy that includes technology protection measures, including the monitoring of online activities of minors.  In addition, per the Protecting Children in the 21st Century Act, schools are also required to educate minors about appropriate online behavior, including interacting with other individuals on social networking websites and in chat rooms, and cyberbullying awareness and response.

The Dignity for All Students Act also requires instruction in safe, responsible use of the Internet and electronic communications.  The following resources may be useful in this effort:

  • Citizenship in the Digital Age - Sample Lesson Plans for Grades 1-12 was created by New York City librarians, for use by school librarians and teachers. The lessons gathered here offer beginning guidance to all those in the field addressing the needs of 21st century students.
  • The National Crime Prevention Council provides information and resources to address issues of internet safety, cell phone safety, and cyberbullying.
  • Netsmartz, from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, provides a free collection of teaching materials on online safety for grades K-12. It includes Spanish language resources for grades K-2 and 3-5.
  • Common Sense Education has published a K–12 digital citizenship program that includes lessons and comprehensive learning resources for students, teachers, and family members.
  • The Cyberbullying Research Center offers a variety of materials on preventing cyberbullying, especially for teenagers.