In this highly digital age, it’s more important than ever to be aware of your online privacy. As a teacher, you have the responsibility of not only navigating the online world but also educating your students about it. From protecting personal information and being smart about online shopping, to avoiding cyberbullying and potentially dangerous situations, here are some internet safety tips to teach your students in order to keep them—and your classrooms safe.
Be Careful About What You Post On Social Media
What you post on social media can (and will) follow you. In fact, many employers use social media profiles and searches to screen job candidates, which includes not only what you’re posting in the present, but what may have already been posted, achieved, or even deleted!
As a teacher, it’s important to always consider your audience when posting. Be sure to get signed contracts from parents allowing photos/content of their children and always redact any personal information from something you’re sharing online (even with permission). Also, stay vigilant when it comes to your own social media. Don’t post content you wouldn’t want your students—or their parents—coming across.
As far as teaching your students, just focus on common sense. Anything that could jeopardize their credibility, reputation, or future is not something worth posting online.
Use Strong Passwords And Change Them Regularly
If you’re still using “password” or “123456” as your password, it’s time for a change. Strong passwords are long (eight characters or more), complex (a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols), and unique (not used for any other accounts).
And once you’ve chosen a strong password, don’t use it forever—passwords should be changed every three to six months to further reduce the risk of them being compromised.
Use A VPN
A VPN, or virtual private network, encrypts your internet traffic and prevents others from snooping on your online activity. This is especially important when using public Wi-Fi networks, which are often unsecured and easy targets for hackers. If your school district doesn’t already have a VPN set up for its employees, consider using your own vpn for school wifi. Many free and paid VPN options are available; just be sure to research before settling on one.
Keep Your Software Up To Date
One of the easiest ways for hackers to gain access to your personal information is by taking advantage of outdated software. That’s why it’s essential to make sure that all the software on your computer—including your operating system, web browser, antivirus program, etc.—is always up to date. Most software programs have automatic update features that can be turned on; if yours doesn’t, make it a point to check for updates regularly and install them as soon as they’re available.
Be Cautious About What You Click On
When in doubt, throw it out! That’s the best rule of thumb to follow when it comes to email attachments and links in emails or instant messages. If you’re not expecting an attachment from someone, don’t open it; if you’re not sure where a link will take you, don’t click on it.
It’s better to err on the side of caution when it comes to email attachments and links; after all, clicking on the wrong thing could give hackers access to your personal information—or, worse, infect your computer with malware.
This is especially important to teach your students, as most of the hacking and scams are around companies that students are using, like Amazon, Apple, or even their banks. Be sure to teach your students how to notice when something is fishy and to be smart about opening links or following websites that lack credibility.
PS: Here is a resource for vetting online websites for their credibility: The CRAP Test!
In conclusion, internet safety is an increasingly important issue—especially for students growing up in this highly digital age. By following these tips for ensuring internet safety, you can help protect yourself from identity theft, cybercrime, and other online threats.