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Wednesday, August 2, 2023

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By Brad Hagg

As students are preparing to transition back to school for the 2023-2024 school year, it’s a great time to reflect on not only the incredible digital tools that they are using to accelerate learning each day, but also how important it is that students are making wise choices when using these powerful solutions.

First, students and caregivers should be very careful about what information they are sharing and with whom they are sharing it. As families complete registration processes all over the state, it would be very easy for a cyber threat actor to imitate school personnel or send messages to steal valuable personal or financial information.

If you receive an unsolicited request for personal information or a form of payment, reach out to your school through a separate phone call or email before sharing any information to confirm that it is, indeed, your local school making the request.

Next, it is important to remind students to practice excellent digital citizenship when engaging with others online.  A good rule of thumb for students (and for everyone) is to ask yourself if you would say what you’re about to type or text if the person was standing right in front of you.  Another good tip is to ask yourself if you would make the post if you knew a grandparent was going to read it.

Just like we tell our children not to talk to strangers, students shouldn’t have an online conversation unless they are absolutely sure they know who they are talking to, and that it is someone they trust. Students should always show any message that seems strange or offensive to an adult that cares about them. Online predators may threaten to hurt relatives of a student they are talking to if the student discloses the conversation. They may also threaten to disclose embarrassing or uncomfortable information about the student. We should make sure that students understand that these situations are definitely when they need to reach out to a trusted adult for help. Talking about situations like these with students before they occur helps us prevent them from causing harm.

When family members communicate openly with each other and plan ahead for how to use these digital tools, they can build some excellent memories and be positioned for a great year of learning!  For more tips, don’t forget to take a look at all of the incredible resources in the NEW Cybersecurity for Education Toolkit 2.0. Download it today!