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How to Protect Your Kids Online During Virtual Learning

October 21, 2020
EMAIL AND TECHNOLOGY

Just months ago, concerns about school safety involved active shooter drills, metal detectors, and visitor policies. Now, security looks quite different—but it’s just as important.

As millions of American kids get used to the new normal of attending school online full-time or on a hybrid basis, virtual school safety is something that parents need to familiarize themselves with. In many cases, parents today are juggling childcare, homeschooling, work and more responsibilities, so thinking about their kids’ cybersecurity may have taken a backseat. However, Zoom bombing, widespread hacking, and other scams are exploding now that so many new, and inexperienced, internet users are online. This could put your family’s private information at risk, as well as even your personal safety.

Here are a few tips for keeping on top of virtual school safety:

 

#1. Monitor email

Many schools have set up personal school email addresses for their students, but parents need to impress upon their kids to only use that address for school purposes. Gaming, socializing, and other online communication should be ideally done through a private email account. Ideally, their email address should be secured by two-factor authentication and encryption. Blending home and school online communication could put too much personal information at risk. Parents also should feel empowered to access their kids’ email accounts, especially younger students, to ensure all communication is appropriate.

 

#2. Parental controls

Kids are now spending much more time on their computers, so parents need to be vigilant about just what they’re looking at and sharing. Tighten all parental controls on your kids’ devices, including on such sites as YouTube and Google. If the device is school-issued and you run into problems changing controls, you can change settings on your home WiFi network to limit what your kids can access.


#3. Teach them the basics

Parents have to be involved in virtual school safety, but they can’t be looking over their kids’ shoulders every minute of the day. Teach youngsters basic cybersecurity techniques, like using a password manager and the importance of anti-virus software.

 

#4. Manage school apps

One of the most challenging aspects of virtual school safety is that so much of online learning is now new to both kids and their parents. To complete their schooling, students are using a wide range of new apps, many of which come pre-loaded into school-issued laptops. Parents should research each of the applications and platforms their kids are using, including reading privacy notices and ensuring they aren’t automatically connected to their kids’ social media and other accounts.

With extra vigilance and just a few steps, you can be sure that your family’s personal data stays safe while virtual learning continues.

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