As educators, you have a high expectation to provide a quality education for today’s youth. But you know that being an educator means much more than just being a teacher. You’re their mentor, their supporter, and someone they can look up to. Your role is ever-changing.
Over the years, we’ve noticed an increase in threats to both student and teacher safety. One less talked-about threat has caused a serious issue for many schools recently. In 2017, there were 455 reported cybersecurity incidents in the education sector alone, according to Verizon’s data breach survey. This number does not reflect unreported cases of problems such as cyberbullying and identity theft. With the expanding use of technology in classrooms, Internet safety has become an issue —and it’s time we start talking about it.
This article will provide tips to help you encourage safer and more responsible use of the Internet among your students.
Tip #1: Learn Your School’s Policy
The most important step is to familiarize yourself with the policy and regulations that your school has in place. There is likely a section on this topic within your employee handbook or on the district website. If there are resources listed for parents and students, check them out.
Having a strong antivirus program installed and knowing the signs of a phishing attack are some of the best mechanisms to protect your school from a cyber attack.
Ask your administrators the important questions. What disciplinary actions are taken when students or faculty break the rules? Are there materials on Internet safety lessons that are available to you? You should also ensure that your school has proper defense systems in place. Having a strong antivirus program installed and knowing the signs of a phishing attack are some of the best mechanisms to protect your school from a cyber attack.
Tip #2: Incorporate Internet Safety Lessons
Beginning the conversation in the classroom will help encourage responsible use, even outside of school grounds. These conversations need to be had, but limited support exists for teachers. Developing ways to incorporate Internet safety into lessons is often best. Important discussion points include appropriate behavior, protecting their personal information, and chatting responsibly online. There are many sites that offer lesson plans and activities, such as this one from BrainPOP.
Tip #3: Talk About Cyberbullying
It’s hard to always be aware of everything that is happening with your students online. One common issue is cyberbullying. Kids and teens are unfortunately more likely to participate in bullying their peers in an online setting. The Internet can be much more anonymous than face to face. That makes its occurrence more prevalent than traditional bullying. Teaching your children to be kind to one another is the best prevention method. It’s also important to build a relationship of trust with your students. This will help them feel comfortable notifying you when they are being cyberbullied or have witnessed a peer cyberbullying another peer. Be on the lookout for the warning signs by educating yourself.
Tip #4: Protect Your Digital Identity
When it comes to Internet security, children are often most at risk. Because of this, its crucial that they learn to protect their digital identity. The earlier students begin using the Internet, the sooner their digital footprint forms. Over time, a larger profile builds around them which can be revealed with a simple Google search. Future college admissions representatives and employers look into these digital profiles. Students wouldn’t want a simple mistake to hurt their chances of going to their dream school or getting their perfect job. Teach them the importance of being responsible with what they post and knowing how to properly remove anything harmful to their reputation.
Tip #5: Take Your Own Advice
The best way for your advice to resonate is to practice what you preach. Take precautions and protect your devices. When you hear your students talking about the newest craze, whether it’s a social media app or a video game, take the time to research it.
Use strong passwords and create an email address that is more professional than personal. You should also look into the privacy settings on your computer to ensure that you have the right protections enabled.
As an educator, there is a higher need to keep your own information secure. You wouldn’t want your students to access anything that is potentially embarrassing, or information you want to keep private. Use strong passwords and create an email address that is more professional than personal. You should also look into the privacy settings on your computer to ensure that you have the right protections enabled.
Together we can make the Internet a safe, responsible, and fun resource for students to use!
This is a guest blog post by Brent Scott. Brent works in the field of cybersecurity, educating the community on the best ways to protect their digital identity online. His goal is to work with teachers, parents, and educators everywhere to ensure that the Internet is a safe environment for all students to explore.