Internet Safety Tips for Parents & Homeschoolers
Updated: May 19, 2022
Homeschooling has boomed since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic as it has become more of a viable option for families. When it comes to learning, the internet can be a great educational resource for students. As parents homeschool their children, they often turn to the web as a place for their child to write reports, perform educational research, and connect with other homeschoolers.
A parent's influence is important to a child’s online learning. Today in the U.S., at least 5 million children, or 11.1%, are being homeschooled according to the Census Bureau. Although the internet can be a resourceful tool, with online access comes risks, like cyberbullying, inappropriate content, and identity theft. It’s important for parents to be aware of what their kids are browsing online and what they’re sharing about themselves. Below are a few steps on how to remain safe online.
Guard Personal Information
Just because your child is doing school from home doesn’t mean potential dangers don’t exist. Discussing with your child things that should and shouldn’t be shared online is a great way to be proactive and educate your child on online safety.
Be sure to teach your kids that the following items should never be used in any online discussions, as this information could be used to identify them:
● Phone number
● Social security number
Most hacks occur due to having an easy-to-guess password. It’s essential to craft a strong password for all of your accounts, choosing a different password for each account. When choosing a password, avoid using words such as a pet's name or the name of your street. Try to incorporate a mixture of words, numbers, and symbols to make your password unique.
Use Secure Sites
Parents, this can sound like an obvious thing to do. You might be thinking “why wouldn’t you want to use a secure site?” However, oftentimes people don’t know what to look for to ensure a site is secure. Using unprotected sites can lead to viruses and hackers stealing personal information. Digital literacy is an important asset to have while homeschooling children (Cyberwise offers a home school curriculum for digital literacy!).
One of the easiest ways to determine if a website is secure is by looking for the letter “s” in the address. Every website address starts with the letters “http,” but you know the site is secure when it reads “https.” This shows you that the website is taking steps to keep users’ information safe while on their site.
For ultimate protection, install a VPN, or virtual private network, service on your child’s device. A VPN forms a private connection tunnel between your device and the websites you access. The data that travels through the tunnel is encrypted automatically and protects anyone using the internet, so all of your online activity is private and secure from hackers.
Supervise Your Accounts
Monitoring your accounts is a wise way to keep track of your online safety and ensure you haven’t been hacked. A great place to check to see if you’ve been hacked is through your email account. Facebook, Instagram, Gmail, and other apps send you a notification if there’s any suspicious activity going on with your account.
Another way to determine if you’ve been hacked or affected by identity theft is by checking your credit score. Being a victim of identity theft can cause you to go into debt, ultimately lowering your credit score. An attack like this can be detrimental to future financial goals, such as buying a house; a home loan preapproval is difficult to achieve with a damaged credit score. Taking the steps to ensure you’re safe online is the easiest way to avoid any damaging occurrences early on.
Online learning can be a wonderful option for your child, allowing for more one-on-one attention and flexibility. While the internet is a great resource for learning, it’s important for parents to stay informed on what their child’s doing online. Taking safety precautions early on can help you stay proactive and avoid any future safety concerns.