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Virtual Learning Safety Tips

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By: Douglas B. Parisi.
Director of Training, Safe Defend

Sometimes we forget to take precaution during remote learning because we’re physically at home, but experts say families should make safety a priority, even as kids partake in virtual classes.

The student should be online with their back to the wall

Most cameras reveal more information in the background than is often considered by users.  There are numerous stories of students, workers, or family members being embarrassed based on stuff left on the floor, open closets, reflections in mirrors, or pictures on a wall.  This is easily avoided by turning the camera to face a wall.

Natural settings should be the go-to when it comes to background.  Lakes, buildings, trees, and other identifying landmarks can reveal a location – which poses threat.  Several media personalities have had their home addresses revealed by a simple comparison to Google maps.

Another issue is the unintentional photo bomb (parents in the background, younger siblings streaking, or distracting animals). Limiting distractions will only enhance the learning environment for everyone.

If allowed, students can easily create a background to avoid all the above.

Students should not be in their own room

The camera reveals too much about the private life of our children.  Messy floors, laundry, items left out or other revealing items (such as medications) should not be in view.  Having the camera in the bedroom creates too many opportunities for something like this to happen.

Students and parents need to know how to use the camera/microphone switches for on/off

A parent should always ask their child to mute the microphone when speaking to them.  Also, parents need to be cautious when speaking in case the microphone is on. Saying things like; ‘I’ll be back in a few hours’ or ‘Enjoy the week, I’ll be on a trip through Wednesday’ can alert unknown observers to the possibility of an empty house.

Also, students should always log out after class, even when the teacher ends the meeting.

Remind Your kids that everything is permanent

Students should be reminded that everything they type or do is being recorded.  They may feel that no one is around, but that’s not the case.  Bad habits like nose picking, thumb sucking, etc will be captured.  While schools do their best to keep this private, it is always possible one of the other students is secretly recording the classroom. Even a harmless gesture could be taken out of context, so students should refrain from saying/typing anything that is questionable.

Hacking is a problem 

There have been incidents of meetings being hacked by outsiders- many times perpetrators post inappropriate sexual or violent images, makes disparaging comments about school personnel and spouts racially inflammatory language.  Much of these incidents are due to the lax security at the onset of the virtual learning experience.  Staff is instructed to post links on websites and send mass emails with multiple log in credentials depending on the class enrolled.  Most of these problems have been addressed but there will still be breaches.  Talk to your kids about leaving a meeting if this happens.

As a precaution, students should be told never to share any links or emails from the teacher.  Even if they think the recipient is a friend or classmate, all requests to ‘send me the link’ should be directed to the teacher.  And finally, when using any shared/public computers, make sure not to save username or password information.

Safety tips courtesy of the experts at Safe Defend

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