Updated: Sep 12, 2020
As schools prepare for the start of a new year, things are looking much differently for students and families with the impact of COVID-19. Many schools are kicking off the year with new learning formats that rely more heavily on online instruction. While some of these formats may not compare to in-person learning, they are a reality to ensure continued education and development while following the current health and safety guidelines. With this, many families will need to adjust and provide additional support to students than ever before. This means more time supporting students outside the classroom, which can look very differently depending on your family's means and each student's age. One particular challenge we face is how to keep our families safe online. With increased use of online platforms and communication services for the new school year, now is a great time to talk with your family about the importance of online safety! Here's some quick safety tips to share with the whole family,
1. Keep personal information safe and know what not to share. Remind your family about their digital footprints and what is appropriate to share online, It's also important to discuss what not to share online and establish any necessary ground rules. Remember, some of the things we say or do online may have lasting consequences.
2. Be aware of risks and create open communication. The content and interactions we have with people online may not always be what they seem. Between scammers and online predators, there are risks that users of all ages can fall victim to. Talk to your family about these risks and allow for open communication when they have questions!
3. Secure your passwords and set up parental controls. Be sure your family knows the importance of strong passwords and personal privacy. Encourage use of password managers and to think twice before entering passwords into any site or application. Depending on the ages of each family member, it may also be necessary to establish content restrictions and device limits.
4. Be kind. Be respectful. The internet has grown into a platform that allows people from all over the world to connect with each other. That means that you and your family are bound to interact with people of different races, religions, and beliefs. Talk to your family about integrity and treating others as they would like to be treated, both online and offline.
5. Not all screen time is created equal. Check-in regularly. When it comes to managing screen time, remember that time spent watching our favorite TV show is not the same as time spent in virtual classrooms. Screens are used in all kinds of different ways and should be managed differently depending on your family's uses and needs. Be sure to check-in regularly and encourage open communication with your family! Looking for more age-specific advice and additional resources? Check out these guides from Internetmatters.org.