Class is back in session and many students will turn to online sources for their homework.
Parents and teachers should be thinking about how to help them stay safe online and avoid being easy targets for online scammers.
Let’s start with parents. What is a good starting point when discussing internet safety?
Social media is the place to start and here’s why: Social media sites are ripe with strangers with intentions that may be quite different than yours.
Many sites are designed to collect and sell unauthorized user details and behaviors to advertisers looking to engage in targeted marketing. Some kids may falsely create a birthdate to meet the minimum age requirement when creating an account.
What are some of the most common online scams targeting kids?
Contests and giveaways: Contests and giveaways often collect a hefty amount of personal information on their entry forms. Make sure your child doesn’t have access to banking or credit card information and supervise the filling out of any forms.
Phishing: Adults are not the only ones who receive spam and junk mail. Kids often get junk mail, and since they don’t have much online experience, they are more susceptible to click on links and answer questions they probably shouldn’t.
What about online apps? How can parents approach that topic?
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 free to download. They may click on these so-called free games and end up costing parents or guardians a hefty bill at the end of the month.
Let’s turn to teachers now. What are some things they should focus on?
- Videoconferencing tools: Just like businesses, ensure the online software used to deliver lectures, classroom work and other online interactions is secure. The days of Zoom bombing, phishing and other forms of cybercriminal activity aren’t over.
- Evaluate and update cybersecurity plans: The sudden shut down of in-person activities left many scrambling to change course in creating and delivering a curriculum. 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.
- Keep a clean machine and update devices that connect to the internet: Backing up critical lesson plans, personal information, and assignments is 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.
What would you say is the main thing we need to tell kids regarding online safety?
There are a few things: don’t believe everything you read online, run everything by your parents and if you think you got scammed, tell an adult.
The problem will not go away on its own.
For more information you can trust, visit bbb.org/ or call our local office at (812) 473-0202!