As summer comes to a close, students are returning to school equipped with mobile phones, tablets, and laptops. Despite the classroom benefits of technology, there are many risks affiliated with it. And they are a big deal. Normal computer security features are sufficient for adults, but children have a natural curiosity and want for knowledge. Cybersecurity threats are often capable of fooling adults, which is why the problem is further amplified toward young students, so they can learn how to safely navigate the web. There are simple and easy practices both students and parents can do to keep their mobile devices safe, prevent Internet scams, and avoid downloading malware.
The “Tech Talk”
If a child is old enough to carry around a smartphone, then he or she is old enough to learn about the dangers of the online world, starting with the technology in their pockets. Cell phones should always have a passcode lock and only be shared between students and their parents. Grand theft phone is unfortunately a common crime in schools, and passcode protection is the only defense against someone trying to access passwords, contacts, or other information stored in a mobile phone. Students and parents should also familiarize themselves with the privacy settings on cell phones and disable location settings for apps that will “geo-tag” or point out someone’s location. It’s also important to check information on apps regularly because they are frequently updated with stronger security features.
Parents should also discuss proper social media use with teens who are entering the world of online social networking. Account setup and screen names for Instagram, Facebook, etc. should be approved by parents and deemed appropriate before they are activated. Then there’s the friend request situation. No friend request by someone unknown or untrusted should be accepted. Case closed. Social media networks that involve posting photographs or updates should also be monitored by parents. It is extremely important to teach youth that what they post on the Internet doesn’t go away. Nowadays, having an online portfolio is extremely helpful to connect with jobs, internships, and educational programs; therefore, it is also important to manage a healthy online reputation.
Older students that are using laptops and tablets in school should also invest time into finding reliable anti-virus software for their devices. And if you want extra protection, there are hardware security keys that make it almost impossible for hackers to access your accounts.
Rated PG: Parental Guidance Suggested
Because kids are introduced to the online world at a much younger age now, it is crucial for parents to set rules and be involved in their child’s online presence. Discussing which websites are on and off limits, what programs can be used, and what online games kids can play is important so that they can avoid unintentionally downloading viruses or other malware. Plus, students and kids will understand that it is okay to come forward with questions, concerns, or problems they encounter.
Even though the only thing we’ve been discussing is how to avoid the bad parts of the Internet, the truth is that it is an incredible tool. It helps people develop problem solving skills, make connections all over the word, allow for a functional economy, etc. But we, as IT people, just don’t want kids, students, or anyone to become susceptible or exposed to the bad parts of the online web, which is why the “tech talk” is so important to us. Since school is just around the corner, we want YOU to know that there are a bunch of ways to use technology as an educational and purposeful tool. But if something goes awry, you’ve always got us to help you.