November is a time for festivity, seasonal treats, and family togetherness. November is also Child Safety and Protections Month: a critical time to reflect on children’s safety in and out of the classroom. This month, along with recipes and holiday shopping, school communities will meditate on topics that relate to children’s welfare, including their safety online.
In today’s era, the concept of “student safety” has surpassed their mere physical well-being to include their online activity. Consequently, precautions must be taken in school, but also at home, to ensure students stay safe online. Security breaches, data-mining, and malware are daily concerns for IT administrators in schools. While student devices can be filtered and monitored on school grounds, that’s not necessarily true once kids stuff their devices in their backpacks and head off-campus.
Home networks aren’t always equipped with the same protections as school, meaning students may visit sites that leave them vulnerable to malware, or parts of the internet that harbor inappropriate content. There is also compliance with legislation like Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA), Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), and the Family educational rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) to consider.
With the aid of G-Suite’s built-in features, as well as software specially designed with students’ safety in mind, here are three ways parents and teachers can keep Chromebook and Windows devices secure off school grounds.
1. Take Advantage of Google’s Built-In Protections.
Though it might seem basic, simply password-protecting a device can go a long way toward ensuring there’s not a data breach on student devices. Google’s default settings provide further protection for devices from phishing and malware. As long as admins keep these tabs turned on, there is an initial layer of protection. Google Safe Browsing also warns users with a pop-up indicating if a site presents a danger to your cybersecurity. Students should also be informed of the protocol should a pop-up window indicating a data breach arise.
By using Google Admin capabilities, administrators can also set up precautions for safe browsing as well as sync users' work apps and preferences, so they align with school policies. Administrators can also ensure that only apps from the Google Chrome Store can be installed, and can even set it so that only apps that are school-approved can be downloaded.
2. Communicate with your Child
As a parent, there are basic measures you can take to protect the safety of your kids online: communicating with your child about potential online dangers is one of them. Just as you teach your child to buckle up, or wear a helmet, online safety precautions and digital citizenship should be modeled at home.
Topics to review with your child may include:
- Don’t talk to strangers online, and never agree to meet them in person.
- NEVER give out personal information such as your full name, birthday, address, or email.
- Avoid downloading pictures or other files from an unknown source.
It may help to set rules about online use, such as hours your child is allowed to go online, or where they can use their device. Many parents insist their children use their device in a common area, where it’s easier to see warning signs of online danger with the computer screen visible and in the open.
3. Use Off-Campus Filtering Solutions
Beyond maintaining default settings, many schools have found success with security software such as GoGuardian’s Filtering Solutions. With GoGuardian's at-home internet filtering and monitoring features, students can access the materials they need off-campus while staying safe. Administrators can set different filtering policies for school and at-home, should they want to relax the stringency set at school.
Using Google's Admin Console and Chrome OS, GoGuardian can offer its complete Chromebook & Windows filtering and monitoring software wherever the device may be. From filtering YouTube videos by keywords to blacklisting entire websites via GoGuardian's CIPA compliant categories list, teachers and administrators never have to worry about how students are using their devices outside of the classroom.
While students are off-campus, by effectively using such filtering software, administrators can monitor an entire organizational unit’s search and web activity or filter down to individual users to see precisely what they have been viewing and when. With GoGuardian's Theft Recovery and geolocation features, you can also rest assured that your school's ChromeBooks are safe and recoverable no matter where they are taken. This gives parents peace of mind and your students a healthy and controlled online learning experience.
Ultimately, as teachers, administrators and parents, we are shepherds of students’ safety. Your student's learning doesn't end in the classroom and neither should their online safety. By taking certain common-sense precautions, teachers and families will be prepared to keep children safe in school, as well as at home this holiday season.