Will students be safe in school this fall? The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases has launched a study to find out, but they won’t have results until December. In the meantime, many schools are implementing a hybrid learning approach to minimize in-classroom safety risks.

A hybrid learning approach relies on the internet, and that introduces a completely different set of risks.

Keeping children safe online is a concern for any organization striving to set up distance learning or digital divide initiatives – especially schools and community youth programs. Protecting children, staff members and volunteers isn’t the only concern. Without the right digital safeguards for your organization, your institution is just one click away from a ransomware attack or other cyber intrusion.

Education is Key to Digital Safety
As the world evolves and the concept of things like cryptocurrency and “deep fakes” become ever more mainstream, critical thinking skills and open communication become more important than ever. Today, preparing our youth with basic life skills includes digital safety best practices.

If your organization caters to children and teenagers, developing a proactive and ongoing dialog is a smart approach – whether its informal discussion or a formal training program. Here are six important considerations for teaching digital safety to students.

The Basics of Internet Safety for Teachers and Administrators
A.  Address internet safety openly with kids in your program, share common safety practices and any rules you are implementing.
B.  Be a positive online mentor. Children model the behavior around them, so consider your actions and be a role model for internet safety.
C.  Communicate. Talk to students about their online activity and why they do the things they do. Give them guidance on what is appropriate versus inappropriate content or engagement.
D.  Develop critical thinking. Review common online situations with students and ask them how they should handle it. Continue to talk with them as new scenarios come up.
E.  Engage with your students’ parents. Internet safety doesn’t stop at school. Mobile devices can be exposed to malware on any network, and then spread within your school or organization’s network. Share safety resources with parents who may be participating in your program.
F.  Foster feedback. Help students feel comfortable coming to you with any questions or concerns, especially if someone engages with them online.

Adding Network Level Content Protection
Content filters offer organizations another way to protect kids from inappropriate content.
At Mobile Citizen, we can provide a Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) compliant content filter with every hotspot we distribute, which blocks adult content and malware. Unfortunately, no content filter solution is completely fail-safe, which is why having a well-rounded safety protocol for the youth you serve is so important.

Does your school or agency need CIPA-compliant content protection for your wireless service? Mobile Citizen can help qualified organizations with low-cost mobile internet that works out to just $10 per month. Set up your Mobile Citizen account today.

Enable distance learning, remote work and more with Mobile Citizen

Sources: https://www.cnn.com/2020/06/11/us/coronavirus-education-will-schools-be-safe-wellness/index.html, https://enough.org/stats_internet_safety, https://www.abc.net.au/life/keeping-kids-safe-online-tips-from-ginger-gorman/11538478, https://www.wsfa.com/2019/02/06/reports-cyber-crimes-against-kids-doubled-last-year/, https://www.wave3.com/2019/09/10/survey-reveals-more-than-percent-children-are-chatting-online-with-strangers/, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-switch/wp/2015/08/06/why-kids-are-meeting-more-strangers-online-than-ever-before/

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