Today is Safer Internet Day, an international education and awareness-raising effort. iKeepSafe has partnered with Safer Internet Day USA to help ensure individuals everywhere are able to reap the wonderful benefits of a connected Internet age, where creativity and technological innovation is encouraged and protected.
Safer Internet Day started in Europe around 2008 and finally made its way to the U.S. in 2012, when the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the European Commission agreed “to work together to build a better internet for youth.”
|“Safer Internet Day aims to reach out to children and young people, parents and caregivers, teachers, educators and social workers, as well as industry, decision makers and politicians, to encourage everyone to play their part in creating a better internet. — Safer Internet Day USA|
With the benefits of digital innovation, creativity, and convenience come many risks — even to our kids. One of the most concerning risks is identity theft, which poses very unique problems for children. In fact, just one joint industry-examination of 40,000 children who fell victim to a data breach in 2011 found that 10.2% of their social security numbers were being used by someone else.
In 2016, The Privacy Rights Clearinghouse found reports on 17 data breaches involving educational institutions, 8 of which involved school districts. One of these reports involved Chicago Public Schools, where confidential information of 30,000 students had been improperly distributed.
“Crime like this does happen, and here’s why: Children’s credit reports are clean,” writes New York Times journalist Ron Lieber. “That’s attractive to people who want to begin their financial lives anew for any number of reasons.” He also points out that minors don’t check or monitor their credit reports or monthly bills, meaning thieves may not get caught for years — decades, even.
However, with the proper mix of education and preventative tools, we can all stay connected safely. Here are some primary ways that parents and educators can promote internet safety both at home and in the classroom.
Have The Talk…
The first step in keeping your child safe is sitting them down for the talk. The Smart Talk, that is. This is a tool that will help you have an informative, interactive, and fun conversation with your kids about things like where to click and not click online, how to share safely on social media, and even best practices to follow while on their phones.
…With Teachers, Too
Show this tool to your children’s teachers, too! It can very easily be used as a classroom lesson on Internet Safety. As parents, you can (and should) question school officials who want Social Security numbers and other personal information for forms, as it may not truly be necessary. Also, you can spread the word about iKeepSafe’s free Data Privacy in Education Training Course. It helps all school stakeholders better understand Data Privacy and how to keep students safe.
Be a Role Model
Our children are little parrots who see and hear everything, and as we very well know they often do as we do rather than do as we say. Use this to your advantage and show them what practicing safe Internet looks like: protect yourself by signing up for the identity theft protection service offered by LifeLock, the maker of Smart Talk and public supporter of Safer Internet Day.
Involve your kids by showing them the app and even going over the monthly reports together. This way, you’re essentially turning your proactivity into another interactive educational tool.
Don’t Overshare (Online Or In Person)
It’s tempting to want to share just about everything about our kids on social media, but you can very easily and inadvertently jeopardize sensitive information. For example, it’s best to keep your child’s date of birth private, which is a valuable snippet of information to identity thieves.
Also, Robert P. Chappell Jr., author of Child Identity Theft: What Every Parent Needs To Know, recommends keeping your voice down at public places like the pharmacy and doctor’s office. “Most [parents] have no idea about the harm that can come from [saying sensitive information out loud].”
Know The Laws
There are both federal and state laws that need to be followed, including FERPA, COPPA, and PPRA, that are designed to protect students and make sure their information is collected properly and used appropriately.
The more informed you are as an educator, the better able you’ll be when it comes to keeping your students safe, and making sure you don’t unintentionally misuse or give out their information. Companies can use a third party assessment, like iKeepSafe, to help them determine whether their product is compliant (and to help them understand the steps they need to take to become compliant if they are not yet there). By encouraging companies to use these services, parents and teachers, can help vendors protect student privacy.
Be An Advocate
As part of the broader data governance plan, and given the increasingly digital landscape of education, there should be a number of data security policies and procedures put in place by your school. These should include incident reporting, employee training, data protection monitoring, cybersecurity services, etc.
Make sure you familiarize yourself and closely follow these policies and procedures; if your school is behind the times, advocate for better regulations and a heightened focus around these issues.
Vet Apps And Other Resources
Digital tools are becoming ubiquitous in the classroom, and for good reason. They can be really fun and useful! However, make sure you’re familiar with your school’s policy for selecting new educational tools.
If you or a student want to use a tool or service that isn’t on the “approved” list, ask for it to be vetted. If your school doesn’t have a process in place, encourage the use of iKeepSafe’s training course or privacy services.
In Short—Do SOMETHING!
There are many ways you can honor Safer Internet Day. The key is to understand that technology provides wonderful benefits—if the proper precautions are in place. We hope you will carve out some time today to think about what steps you can take to help encourage and protect creativity and technological innovation.