Back to (Virtual) School – Digital Safety Tips for Parents
School looks unusual this year. Whether students are all-virtual, all in-person, or some combination, kids will spend several hours a day online. This means they’re more vulnerable to online threats, such as cyberbullying, unsafe posting and internet predators.
While we should always be working to monitor our kids’ online lives and empower them to be good digital citizens, there is evidence that we need to be more vigilant than normal during COVID. In fact, in April, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) reported it has recorded 450 tips on cybercrimes against children in 2020 so far, with 122 tips received in the month of March alone. This is twice the number they normally receive.
In addition to following your natural parental instincts, here are actions you can take to help keep your kids safe online this school year:
Set up your child’s workstation in a common area where the screen is visible so you can supervise their online activity.
Become familiar with the online learning platform your school uses. Ask about the security features and enable those that are available.
Check in with your kids daily about their online activity. Ask them who they talk to online, which sites their teachers ask them to visit and apps to use. Pay special attention to instant messaging apps, like Skype, Messenger Kids and Google Hangouts.
If your child is using new equipment, or a device issued from school, remember to uninstall apps that might be distracting and block access to sites where predators might lurk.
Make sure security software is installed and is up to date.
Perhaps the most important thing you can do, however, is to keep the lines of communication with your kids AND their teachers open. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, even if you suspect you know the answer.
TBI Director David Rausch said, “We want to encourage parents to be vigilant. Just as you wouldn’t let strangers into your home, or certainly your children’s bedroom, you shouldn’t let cyber-criminals into your home through phones or other screen sources.”
You can find many other helpful cybersecurity resources on our website. We also invite you to follow us on LinkedIn or Twitter.
Written by: Sarah Nicholas
Sarah is the Director of Communications for Serendipity Communications. She lives in Plainwell, Michigan with her husband, daughters and stepson, with twin stepdaughters nearby. She is passionate about cyber safety education and animal rights and enjoys ballet dancing, reading and volunteering at her children’s school.
The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.
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