Delaware's fifth- and sixth-grade students are learning how to type correctly -- and how to avoid Internet predators and keep their information safe at the same time.

Delaware's fifth- and sixth-grade students are learning how to type correctly -- and how to avoid Internet predators and keep their information safe at the same time.

Willis Intermediate School Principal Heidi Kegley said she has wanted to offer an Internet safety course for many years. Her idea came to fruition when Amy Waldon began teaching a nine-week creative-arts class that covers keyboarding and Internet safety for all fifth- and sixth-grade students.

Waldon and school resource officer John Hartman discussed the course during parent-teacher conferences Thursday, Feb. 12. Waldon said she told parents what she covers with her students in class, and Hartman added some information about online safety.

Waldon said many parents are concerned about cyberbulling and sexting. She added although sexting isn't a real problem with this age group, it could become one in middle school and high school.

"One thing many parents didn't realize is that taking inappropriate pictures is considered a felony, not just when you send and receive them," she said. "If (students) are taking the pictures, they are breaking the law."

In class, Waldon tells students what information they should keep private and what is OK to share online. She also covers how to create safe passwords, how to avoid stalkers in gaming chat rooms and how to deal with cyberbullying.

"A lot of parents are confused about what cyberbulling actually means," she said. "It's not when someone just gets picked on once; it's when a child is constantly receiving mean or threatening messages digitally. It's not a one-time thing."

Waldon said traditional bullying is easy to understand -- for example, when a child has his lunch taken away from him every day. If it happens once, the child is being picked on, not bullied, she said.

"We see a lot of cyberbulling when kids are playing games that involve some sort of messaging," she said. "Kids tend to trash-talk while they're playing and it can cross the line into repeated inappropriate messages from the same people, and that's bullying."

Waldon said many parents' concerns stem from the rapidly changing world of technology and the number of new applications that are available to their children.

"Everything changes so quickly and parents want to know all about what their kids are capable of getting into on the computers and on their phones," she said. "What we stress with our parents is to have open and honest communication with their kids."

Waldon and Hartman encouraged parents to talk to their children, especially if they act like they're hiding something or don't want their parents to see their devices. Waldon said Hartman told parents they have the right to know what their children are doing and need to be vigilant and proactive.

"I don't think that just taking the devices away and forbidding things is necessarily the answer," Waldon said. "I think they need to be aware of what their kids are using these devices for and be aware of what they're doing."

Waldon said she's not an expert on all safety measures on the Internet, and said she's learning more every day.

"I don't know everything, but I believe the course I teach is really appreciated by parents, teachers and students," she said. "The cyberworld can be scary, but we can have the tools and knowledge to be safe and aware of what's going on."