We asked an OPPD cybersecurity analyst to offer some cybersecurity tips for students as they head back the classroom. Digital safety should be top-of-mind, no matter the age of the user.
Back-to-school time is exciting. But in the rush to buy pencils, pens and notebooks, parents sometimes forget about digital safety when preparing their kids for school. Good cybersecurity practices should begin early and follow students to college.
Students 5 to 7 years old: Children in this age group don’t typically carry cellphones, but some do. Some kids might have tablets they use to play games or watch videos that parents have approved. But be aware that some tablets have integrated browsers. When connected to Wi-Fi, tablets can access the internet, letting kids see websites their parents might prefer they avoid. Look for parental control software or an app compatible with the operating system of these basic tablets to insure they only browse approved sites.
Students 8 to 10 years old: Children in this group often have a cellphone. If they do not have a phone, or if you’ve removed access to technology, you should still manage the risks around them. A parent (or grandparent or caretaker) of a young person in the digital age is also a “digital parent,” and they are responsible for teaching their children how to live responsibly with technology.
Getting kids into a “digital safety” mindset isn’t difficult. Parents should be honest, tell them the risks, and sit down with them to make a digital safety plan together. Some parents worry about their child’s reaction when they discuss some of these suggestions. Remind them that they are on your wireless plan and you want them to be safe. These simple cybersecurity tips can help students get out the door and off to school as safely as possible.
Because technology and the internet change so rapidly, it can be difficult to keep track of which websites and apps your kids should have access to and which they should avoid. Fortunately, there are plenty of tools to help.
First-day-of-school milestones are a big deal, but be thoughtful about the amount of information you are sharing about your child on social media. Sharing too many details could potentially pose a danger to your child or your internet security. Although these details may seem trivial, be wary of sharing your child’s school, teacher name, school name, age and favorite activities online. Criminals and predators can use this information to track and lure children.
It’s nearly impossible to review every text message, post and email on your child’s device. Good news: Several apps can help monitor their online activity and alert you to dangers. Some of the most popular are Disney’s Circle Go, the Bark app, and the Amazon-backed Luma router. If these tools detect an issue, or see your child going to an inappropriate site, they detect this and block them. Most of these apps give parents the option to receive alerts and information as to which sites were blocked, so parents can have a conversation with their kids.
This age group is typically already tech savvy, but not always up to date on best practices for staying safe online. To help them stay out of trouble, or to help prevent someone stealing their identity, follow the mobile best practices below.
For more tips on your specific phone type, try using the Federal Communications Commission’s smartphone security tool. It helps smartphone owners protect themselves against mobile security threats. Choose your mobile operating system, then follow the 10 customized steps to secure your mobile device.
For other back-to-school cybersecurity tips for students, check out the following links:
CISA Cybersecurity Awareness Program Student Resources
Family Tracking – Life360
The Bark app
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