Nashville, TN – Several school districts returned to in-person instruction only to shut back down for cleaning, to do a hybrid learning schedule, or not come back to in-person instruction until after winter break.
Now, as we approach the school year’s halfway point, teachers, administrators, and families may turn lax or forget to remind students about digital hygiene.
The Better Business Bureau (BBB) of Middle Tennessee and Southern Kentucky wants to remind everyone to stay safe while online and avoid being easy targets for online scammers.
Parents: What to teach your child
Kids often get junk mail and, since they don’t have much online experience, they are more likely to be susceptible to click on links and answer questions they probably shouldn’t. While some emails may be legitimate, the last thing anyone needs is a $500.00 bill from a fake website or malware downloaded onto your child’s device.
Never create an account on websites without permission
Many sites are designed to collect and sell unauthorized user details and behaviors to advertisers looking to engage in targeted marketing. When creating an account, some kids may falsely create a birthdate to meet the minimum age requirement. By choosing an older age, the individual nullifies many of the protections and regulations that prohibit data collection from people under 13 years of age.
Warn about contests and giveaways
Contests and giveaways often collect a hefty amount of personal information on their entry forms. Many are thinly disguised ways of collecting personal or financial information that could lead to identity theft. Ensure your child doesn’t have access to banking or credit card information and supervise the filling out of any forms.
Short for “applications,” apps are downloaded software that operates on various devices, such as smartphones. However, certain apps might collect and share personal information about your child or target your child with ads. Even free apps may include paid features and children may not understand that some apps or game features cost money since they were labeled as free to download. They may click on these so-called free games and end up costing a hefty bill at the end of the month.
File sharing sites
Many websites allow children to download free media. They may not know these sites often come with the risk of downloading a virus and/or even allowing identity thieves to gain access to their gaming device, personal computer, or cell phone. Once the cyber thief has access, they can track financial transactions, physical location, or even tap into the household Wi-Fi without anyone knowing it.
Teachers and Administrators:
Evaluate and update cybersecurity plans
The sudden shut down of in-person activities can leave many scrambling to create and deliver a curriculum. In a rush, cybersecurity can sometimes be one of the last things on anyone’s mind. However, now is the time for educators to develop a plan to notify students, faculty, and staff should there be a data breach or security problem once classes are back in session.
Just like businesses, make sure the online software used to deliver lectures, classroom work, and other online interactions are secure. The days of Zoom bombing, phishing, and other forms of cybercriminal activity aren’t over.
Keep a clean machine and update devices connected to the internet: Backing up critical lesson plans, personal information, and assignments are the best defense against viruses, malware, and other online threats. The only way to do this is to stay up to date on the most current software to protect against them.
Tips on how to manage online privacy for the family:
Know about Children’s Advertising Review Unit (CARU)
CARU’s self-regulatory program provides detailed guidance to children’s advertisers on how to deal sensitively and honestly with children’s issues. These guidelines include and go beyond the issues of truthfulness and accuracy to consider the uniquely impressionable and vulnerable child audience.
Know about COPPA
The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act protects children’s personal information under the age of 13 on websites and online services—including apps. COPPA requires those sites and services to notify parents and get their approval before collecting, using, or disclosing a child’s personal information. However, if your nine-year-old tells Instagram they are 13 (the age requirement to use the app), this law will not protect him or her.
Know about FOSI
The Family Online Safety Institute brings an international perspective to the potential risks, harms, and rewards of our online lives. The Good Digital Parenting web portal is an excellent resource for families looking to educate online safety measures in the Internet age.
Read privacy policies together and understand privacy settings
Parents can have their children read the privacy policies and terms of using any apps they want to use. There might be a little grumbling that the policies “are too long” or that “it takes too much time”. Remind them of the importance of knowing what they are signing up for and insist that they are read. Additionally, take the time to learn and understand each of the apps and games’ privacy settings. Less is more when it comes to sharing information.
Don’t share your location
Nearly every app automatically tracks a user’s location. From placing an online order for groceries or fast food to playing an online game, review the apps on all of your devices to see which ones are tracking your location. Only if it’s not needed, look in the settings to see how to disable this feature.
Advise a friend or family member to avoid geo-tagging their posts with their location. Why? For example; you never want to announce the fact your family is vacationing out of state while the house sits empty. A simple review of the geo-tagged post will reveal where you really are.
Use parental controls if necessary
Although the best way to keep a child’s online privacy safe is to teach them to manage it themselves, it doesn’t hurt to have their backs using parental controls. Today Android, iOS, and most web browsers offer built-in features that allow parents to monitor their children’s online activities but third-party apps are available. Research the option that works best. Follow through with the child the reasons why you’re monitoring their activities.
Share with care and remember, personal information is like money
What is posted online can last a lifetime: parents can teach children that any information they share online can easily be copied and is almost impossible to take back. Talk to them about who might see a post and how it might be perceived in the future, showing them how anything they do online can positively or negatively impact other people. Sharing personal information can also give online thieves an idea of what login information or passwords might be used for banking accounts or other online accounts.
Read more on keeping children safe online.
Visit the National Cybersecurity Alliance for the latest information.