Today’s world is highly interconnected and these days, students are spending their maximum time online. Everyone, especially the younger generations, uses the internet for relaxing, entertainment, sharing interests, accessing services, connecting with people, and expressing themselves. Though this connectivity gives numerous benefits, it also enhances the risk of online harms like privacy breaches, image-based abuse, and cyberbullying.
Online resources play an important role in the emotional and social development of students. But at the same time, it is also a big reason behind how cyber safety education is becoming a key component in the students’ online safety.
What is Cyber Safety?
Cyber safety is using communication and information technologies like tablets, smartphones, social media, online games, the internet, and other connected devices in a secured and responsible way. This education provides students the skills and knowledge required for staying safe in an online environment. It also helps students in understanding the online opportunities and benefits along with potential harms and risks.
Importance of Cybersecurity
Following are the key concerns for which cybersecurity is important:
- Knowing which online information is reliable
- Online hate, cyberbullying, and aggression
- Child sexual abuse and sexual exploitation
- Sharing self-generated sexual images
- Access to explicit and inappropriate content
- Contact with strangers and meeting them in person
- Receiving unwanted content or contact online
- Distraction from relationships, studies, and sleep
Cyber Safety Guide For Middle School Kids
Here are some of the ways by which children can save themselves from cybercrime issues:
- Beware before sharing any information with people online
Personal information means everything about you like name, parents’ names, address, age, and contact details. With this information, anyone can find you very easily online and offline as well. So, you should be cautious while sharing any personal information with anyone online. You must avoid sharing it with someone you know and trust. Ensure to check your privacy settings so that your personal information is not visible to the public.
- Make your online accounts safe and use strong passwords
One should always use a strong password consisting of eight characters. Avoid using words in passwords that are easily found in the dictionary. These words are easy targets of hackers. The password must contain one uppercase, one lowercase letter, numbers, and special characters. Also, avoid using the same password for every site. Also, avoid using your full name in any username to protect your personal information.
- Social media netiquette
Ensure to post appropriate content on social media since whatever you post will stay there forever and anyone can check your profile. Also, ensure to check your security settings so that whatever you post is only be viewed by your friends. Beware of cat fishing, meaning that a person sets a picture or profile and pretends to be someone else that they are not. You may think that you are talking to a kid but it could be an adult pretending to be a child with wrong intentions. If someone approached you on social media and you feel anything fishy about that then you must tell your parents or just completely avoid communication with that person.
It is similar to bullying in real life, except that it is online and not in person. This can be done by text messages, spreading rumors on social media, and posting one’s personal information online. If you ever come across such a situation that makes you feel uncomfortable then don’t respond to it and discuss it with your parents or an elder family member so that proper action can be taken.
- App security 101
If an app is available for downloading then it doesn’t necessarily imply that it is a safe app. It is always recommended to download apps from trusted sources like Google Play Store or App Store. Both these sources check apps to ensure safety. Scammers try to trick people to download apps for hacking their information and other data on phone. Always check the app by reading its comments and reviews and if you still have any confusion then ask your adults to guide you.
- Other useful tips
○ Always join clubs or enter contests after getting approval from parents
○ Never reply to your friends on social media asking for money or never click on any suspicious link send by them.
○ Also if you don’t know the person, don’t accept their friend request.
How can teachers help tackle this issue?
A school must guide its teachers to access cybersecurity issues from children. Children must feel free to contact their teacher for guidance.
Here are some points by which teachers can help their students:
- Teachers must access the readiness of students for addressing cyber safety issues and provide solutions for the same.
- They should engage students and families in creating a positive online environment.
- They should implement cyber safety programs, engage external safety education providers, and issue guidelines for dealing with online safety issues.
- They should access and respond to the incidents of cyber safety to protect the wellbeing and mental health of students.
Parents’ guide for protecting children from cybercrime
Generally, children are more inclined towards internet culture as parents don’t have enough time to spend with them. However, as parents, you can put a hold on their internet usage, whenever necessary.
Below mentioned are some points via which parents can save their children from cyberbullying-
- Preparing a fixed time table with time allotted for internet usage
- Deciding about the age at which they can be introduced to social media
- Keeping a close check on activities of their children
- Staying updated with cybersecurity news
- Encouraging children for regular changing of passwords and not sharing with anyone.
To be precise
It is hard to escape the net of the internet but when used with caution it can prove to be a good source of information. It is the responsibility of parents and teachers to educate students about cybersecurity and tell them to take necessary precautions so that they should not land in any trouble. Also, they have to make them comfortable so that the students can share their problems with adults and find a feasible solution at the earliest.