Back to School: Using Smart Cybersecurity Practices this New School Year


Maintaining a high-level of security when using personal electronic devices in a public setting is a constant concern among adults. Taking extra precaution with the security of our devices and the apps we access on these devices is commonplace. But what about our children, who are using internet-connected devices at a younger age and more frequently than ever before? As students head back to school over the next several weeks, educators and parents share the task of keeping our children and their electronic devices secure from cyberthreats, including the growing epidemic of cyberbullying. McAfee, a global virus protection and internet security company recently surveyed nearly 4000 high school students to determine their habits using electronic devices in school and their awareness of cybersecurity when accessing these devices. 86% of these students claim to use internet-connected devices at least one hour a day during school hours for school specific work; 57% use them for three or more hours each day. Since so much time is spent on these devices, it’s increasingly important that school administrators are putting measures in place to protect students and their devices. And most of these students polled believe in its success, as 80% think their school protects them against cyberthreats.

Keeping children safe from cyberthreats does not reside solely on educators. According to McAfee, more effort is needed from parents once students leave school grounds. 50% of children aged 14-15 talk to their parents about safe online practices. The numbers drop as they get older, as only 30% of children aged 16 to 18 speak with parents about online safety.

Cyberbullying remains a critical factor with high school students using electronic devices. Threats of physical harm, passive-aggressive speech, hate comments and forms of exclusion are often communicated through texts and via apps like Snapchat and Instagram.

What can parents do to keep their children safe from electronic threats and cyberbullying?

• Communicate with your children. Become aware of behavior changes in your children and keep an eye on their social changes and new friends that appear in the picture. • Use the same social networks your child uses. Explain to your child that you’re not “snooping” on them, but rather you’re a trusted source for protecting against the cyberthreats any child can endure. • Protect all of your family’s devices with security software. • Ensure that passwords are kept private only between parents and children. Once these are shared with others, cyber safety is compromised. • Maintain a balance of time your child spends with electronic devices. Encouraging outside activities, connecting with friends face-to-face and exercising will go a long way in helping your child stay safe as they head back to school.

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