The Coronavirus pandemic is forcing schools across the country to make difficult decisions. Will kids have in-person classroom learning or will school days be virtual? Districts are currently deciding between a multitude of options, and many are resorting to teaching kids online from the safety of their homes.
Online Safety Red Flags to Watch Out For
As parents prepare for virtual learning, there are a few online safety need-to-knows to keep top of mind for their children’s safety. Here are some important reminders to share with your children and keep an eye out for. If your child has any of these red flags, they should alert a parent or trusted adult immediately.
- Don’t share any personal information, location or photos with anyone online. Sharing private data online can lead to a number of issues including identity theft or harassment, and it could risk your family’s privacy.
- Never respond to any messages that make you feel bullied, threatened or uncomfortable. If your child is messaging someone that is asking sensitive questions or making inappropriate comments, it may be a sign that the person is dangerous and may not have the best intentions in the conversation.
- Always ask parents for permission to download new apps or software. Some apps and software may be inappropriate for the child’s age, and even though they may be suitable for your child’s age parents may not be comfortable with some features or language. Plus, some software is spammy and could be damaging to your devices.
- Never share passwords and login information with anyone besides your parents. Sharing your login information to social media and other online accounts. Once you share these details, people will have the ability to control your accounts including who’s messaged, what’s shared and posted without your permission.
Talking with Your Kids About Online Safety
Now, more than ever, kids’ lives are focused online. FaceTime, social media, gaming and virtual learning are just a few ways they’re sticking to their screens. Don’t be afraid to talk to your kids about online safety. Create a safe space for your kids to ask questions, tell you what they’re seeing and express any concerns. Here are a few points to help you guide the conversation with your family about online safety.
- Talk about what they like to do online and why. It could be a great way to start the conversation.
- Ask if anything online worries them or makes them uncomfortable. Talk about why and remind them that you’re always available to talk.
- Discuss common online dangers that they could face. They may share red flags they’ve noticed in the past. Remember to remain optimistic and open to the discussion.
- Establish internet rules together that focus on their safety and wellbeing. Remember to discuss why the rule is important.
Encouraging Online Safety with Virtual Learning
Virtual learning and online safety together may be a lot for parents to face this year. Here are some tips to get you through the back to school season with lessons, interactions, activities and homework online this school year.
- If possible, be nearby when your child is doing their online learning. Check in frequently to make sure they’re focused on their lesson.
- Ask the teacher about the software that will be used. Take time to research the features, capabilities and restrictions before the school year begins. Some teachers may also offer parents an app to keep them in the know.
- Make sure your child’s device has parental controls to keep them focused and keep you alert of any suspicious activity happening online.
- Double-check your home’s WiFi and Internet security to prevent any hacks or dangerous activity from cybercriminals.
- Keep all personal and learning software updated regularly and install any updates as soon as possible.
We know the upcoming school year will look different for many families. Remember to keep an open line of communication with your kids and their teachers. Most of all, remember to keep internet safety top of mind and be aware of any red flags in order to keep you and your family safe.