It’s no secret that students are more digitally engaged than ever before. With technology at their fingertips at home and in the classroom, today’s children are “digital natives” — having used computers, tablets, and smartphones from a very early age.
While technology provides powerful learning opportunities, parents and educators alike are becoming more aware of the threats at hand when young ones enter the online space. With personalized profiles, unique accounts, and custom online experiences, protecting a child’s safety and identity requires some extra leg work.
That’s why we compiled this list of tips. At GRACE Christian School, we want to help parents find the balance between personalized technology and security, allowing their children to take advantage of online tools — without being taken advantage of.
When downloading a new app or creating a new account, your child will likely be asked for a great deal of personal information. While some information might be required (such as name and an e-mail address), consider whether the value of customization outweighs the risks of oversharing. Some apps, especially those with a social component, may encourage a personal bio, photo, or other details. Be selective with what you share in these fields. Never share birthdays, school names, or hometowns.
Adjust Social Media Settings
While young students may not be using social media, pre-teens and teens are often heavily engaged with networking apps. Accounts should always be set to private. Sometimes, this has to be changed manually as many apps default to public profiles. Further, today’s apps often use location data — but you can disable this feature on your smartphone or tablet settings. Remind your student to use secure passwords and never, ever share them with others, even close friends.
Today’s parents have a great deal of responsibility; not only do you have to monitor your child’s physical life, you must be involved with their digital lives as well. While it may seem like a chore, it’s important to stay educated about the platforms your child is using, the people they’re connecting with, and the conversations they’re having. The risks of predators, cyberbullying, and other negative activities are very real. Never think of monitoring as an invasion of privacy; your involvement now could prevent long-term challenges.
Foster Open Communication
Consider ways to connect with your child about their online experiences. For younger students, setting age-appropriate limits and maintaining a balanced approach to technology use may be enough. As students get older, they can understand some of the dangers such as identity theft, malware, and cyber stalkers. The most important thing, at any age, is that your kids feel comfortable coming to you if they encounter an issue online, and that they know you’re there to help.
Limit Overall Time Spent Online
It adds up quickly! Studies show that some children spend six hours a day online. This can significantly impact a child’s development physically, and new research says that excessive internet use is tied to issues like anxiety and depression. Parents themselves can model healthy relationships with technology by limiting their own use and encouraging screen-free time in the evening.
Partner With Your School
Parents are not the only ones with a great deal of responsibility in today’s ever-changing world. Schools have a to protect student data and ensure children at all grade levels are using technology safely in the classroom. Don’t hesitate to ask schools how they maintain a secure network, protect students’ identities, and monitor students as they interact with tablets and computers for learning purposes. GRACE Christian School launched it’s 1:1 laptop program in 2010 and has extensive experience in harnessing the benefits of technology in the classroom while simultaneously teaching our students how to be good digital citizens.
Free E-Book for Parents
Raising children in today’s digital-driven world is a big job. It’s important to choose a school that is equally committed to your student’s safety — in every sense of the word. If you’re looking for a private school, download our free e-book, Start Smart, for more tips on choosing wisely.