It is never too early to plan for the new academic term! As well as getting pens and paper, we need to equip ourselves and our children with the framework and knowledge to be safe online.
Here we have put some links to education providers, safeguarding advice and sources of sound advice.
We counsel against the use of tracking apps such as ourpact. These are essentially stalkerware. We need to create trust and good habits with young people: communication and safe practice is as important with health for example, as it is with privacy.
Nothing beats communication. Discuss risks with your children as well as appropriate behaviour online.
Microsoft and Google as well as Apple have Family Account options. From here you can set up child accounts. These accounts allow you to control what apps are downloaded, or to manage content preferences. Apple offers the share my location option.
Our basic rule is that when setting up any new account, do not agree to all permissions . The main problematic ones are : location, photos and camera.
These are also easy to check on your device and disable individually, as is shown below. Simply go to Settings and then check what permissions you have given each app.
Communicate with your children about safety. Remind them that what is posted online is there forever. Tell them never to accept invitations to chats or meet from strangers. Ensure that they do not use real names or photos online and never divulge address or personal information. It is worth speaking repeatedly to all adults in their circle about good practice too: I have had my eldest child ask me who a “stranger ” was online. It was in fact a family member who messaged them with “now I have your number I can message you always”. We must set an example.
It is entirely possible that if you set screen time blocks, the child may re set the time zone for the device to evade this control. Google docs offer live collaboration and so on. You can only do so much as they grow and gain independence. Just like health and politeness- online safety is something we have to discuss and set examples for.
I have an internet router from Amplify which allows me to pause internet or set time limits for internet access according to family member. I can also pause the internet on every device on my network if I need to! It is worth considering such options. They are a good way of boosting the parental controls that you have with your family accounts.
The golden rule is to check settings and to update apps regularly. Updates are like vaccines for your devices- they keep things secure. Settings and permissions sometimes change despite what you initially consented to. So make it a habit to check what each app is able to access. And put tape or a web cam cover over your device cameras. This stops anyone being able to access your camera or view you without your consent. I love my webcam cover because when I have conference calls, I don’t risk a video call starting before I have finished my coffee. But especially for young people, it is good practice to do this.
We also suggest you follow this link to check what information the government is storing on your child/ren https://defenddigitalme.com/my-records-my-rights/
This information is regularly distributed to media or corporate entities and it is worth requesting your data be deleted.
In addition, if you are interested in reading further about the security of popular classroom apps, follow this link
It is always worthwhile to consider how much data you allow an app to have and how secure that data is kept, who it may be given to.
Here are some links to useful consumer privacy sources: