When I was growing up, I never gave much thought to the communications between my parents and my teachers. Typically, there was a back-to-school night; if ever I did something wrong, the communication was made in a phone call from the teacher or principal; and there were letters/results that needed to be signed by my parents.
Now, if you were raised in the 80s/90s and are a little bit like me, there’s a chance that your parents didn’t always see these letters/results and the letters maybe had a forged signature or two. To be fair, karma caught up with me on a few occasions and my son wrote a note to his teacher once as well signing it with “Love, name redacted’s Mom”.
While my son’s note gave all involved a chuckle, in all seriousness, technology has now enabled communications between parents and teachers and also teachers and their students. Likewise, there are multiple ways for students to connect with other students. With all these tech-enabled communications for school, there are multiple “human element” fail points – so being a security company with a blog, we’d be remiss not to offer some tips to keep you and your kids safe and sound.
Parent to teacher
Who remembers the pandemic? You know, the one that introduced us to the lovely world of remote learning. At the time, it was nice to see how the educational system was flexible enough to embrace technology quickly and assure that the kiddos’ education could continue.
Fast-forward a few years to today and the technology still has a firm grip within the school systems. As a resident of the U.S., my children are now using Chromebooks vs textbooks and there are various apps that the teachers use to keep us up to date on progress. There are a number of these apps and they’ll vary from case to case, but ours are Remind and Google Classroom.
While these platforms are very integrated and easy, they still also tie into emails. So parents should be extra careful to make sure that the sender and the links within mails aren’t malicious.
Student to teacher
The above-listed apps are also used for students to communicate with teachers; however, they also have the added level of an internal email that could be used to communicate with the teachers directly. While email in Google’s ecosystem should be locked down and be more of an internal messenger, it’s good practice to let kids know they should be cautious of what they’re sending to teachers, as well as the links that teachers are sending along that direct them outside their school’s ecosystem.
Student to student
Perhaps the most tricky part of kids going to tech-enabled school is that we live in a tech-enabled society. This means that (almost) everyone has a smartphone or other connected device and the ills that come with them – including messaging apps, social networks, a camera and SMS.
Perhaps the biggest risk that we have when discussing schools and tech is the phones within the pockets of our little ones. There are simply too many avenues for sharing that our kids can take advantage of. As parents, we need to make sure that we have them set up with a device that’s secure. And before you say it, NO – the device is not secure out of the box, despite marketing messaging. You should make sure that you install a reliable security solution on any device your kids use to help add in a layer of extra protection. Here are some tips that can help further securing the phone.
Sharing is not always caring
This final tip is for both parents and kids. Repeat after me: Sharing is not always caring.
While many applications provide the ability to share what you’ve received via various channels, when it comes to schooling, this should be avoided. Also, as mentioned, our phones are the biggest risk to us.
We literally have at our fingertips the ability to broadcast our opinions, thoughts, pictures, videos… even what we’re doing on the toilet in real time and to the whole world. Sure, this is empowering, but it is also something that could come back to hurt us.
This is a lesson we need to remember as parents and also to impart to our children. Being prudent is a huge part of life: not everything needs to be shared. We all need to take a minute to take a step back and think about what we’re doing before hitting send.
Now, before I preach to the choir, I’ll admit that I often post stupid things: you can see this on my X, for example; however, I still think before hitting send. As parents, we need to let our kids know that the stuff they post could not only get them in trouble (broadcasting fights, illegal activity, etc.), but also that there are things that could hurt them well down the line in the employment space. As they say… the internet never forgets!