A new school year is just about to start. After a year of Covid and remote learning, the consensus is students need to return to the classroom to reap the many social benefits of in-person learning. The protocols for in-person learning are still evolving, especially given the rise of infections due to the Delta variant and the unavailable vaccine for children under twelve. One thing that stays certain is that technology will continue to play a larger role in the lives of students, educators and administrators. The classrooms today are more connected than ever, allowing the youngest students early adoption – and ability in -- computers, tablets, printers, and other devices. With increased technology adoption, comes increased need for security and privacy. Roark Tech Services compiled our back-to-school Tech Tips that not only apply to children, but teachers and faculty alike. As parents we are accustomed to the cyber threats and protections at our jobs. Parents need to take the same posture when it comes to kids, their personal information, and the technology that they use for school.
The Basics Before students head off to school with a new laptop, tablet or phone, make sure the device is secure. Strong passwords, removal of administrative rights and educating students about the dangers of free Wi-Fi are all critically important steps that serve to protect students – and schools --from bad actors
Research Tech Before Buying
While laptops and tablets were once “nice to have” accessories for learning, today they are needed equipment at many schools. Moreover, all-in-one printers, external hard drives, power packs, USB hubs, and “wearable” tech suddenly creates a very connected setup for learning. Don’t simply buy what’s new or deeply discounted.
A trusted IT advisor at Roark Tech Services can help you make the right choice for your budget and your technology needs — and ensure its deployed properly when you’re ready to put it to use.
Take Cybersecurity Seriously In October 2020, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 8612 - Enhancing K-12 Cybersecurity Act. The Act puts money and resources behind plans to prevent cyberattacks on elementary and secondary schools. Academia is an increasingly attractive target for cyber criminals because of the extraordinary vulnerabilities that exist on school infrastructure as well as the likelihood of gaining credentials that will work at banks and other organizations, setting the stage for ransomware attacks. Cybersecurity awareness is the best defense against cybercrime. If students learn how to spot a phishing email or understand “when it seems too good to be true”, they will think twice and sometimes that’s all it takes.
Use Parental Controls Parental controls are not just for kids. While the name implies tools to control what children can and cannot see on their devices, such as foul language, violence, sex, and nudity, Parental Controls can also help block In-App purchases. Depending on the age of the student, content filtering is proper, but other Parental Controls can serve to help secure the devices from unwanted purchases, websites or frauds.
Evaluate the Need for Insurance Insurance is always an up sell and, depending on where you buy from, there is a push to have it bought. Before you do, check your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy first, as many will cover electronics at a higher rate than supplemental coverage, even if a piece of equipment for a student living in your home.
Consider Accessories Protective items like outer cases, sleeves, and screens can prevent minor accidents and extend the life of any device. Some accessories increase efficiency and are worth the investment, such as wireless headphones, a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse, HDMI cables, and other tools to enhance connectivity.
Remain A Good Role Model Children don’t hear us, they imitate us. It’s a lot easier to straighten a tree when it’s young, so set a good example for your young students. It’s tempting to post things on social media, birthday’s, pet names, vacations, etc., but this is just the type of information hackers look to set a trap. Everyone, including parents, should practice good cyber hygiene as well as limit online exposure.
If You're a Student While students are more tech-savvy than ever before, there are certain tips that can help ease the transition to the upper grades and beyond.
Understand Security: If your computer is hacked it can really ruin your day. Lost time, lost research and, perhaps, lost money. It’s easy to click here and there without thinking of where it takes you. It’s important you know the reliable sites and the signs of a suspicious email to help you stay secure and prevent becoming a victim. Just Because It’s Free: Free Wi-Fi is great but beware of connecting to public networks that are available at airports, restaurants and stores. You don’t know who set them up or who is connecting to them. When possible, only connect to networks you trust. Use a VPN to protect your connection. Back Up Your Data: You won’t be the first, nor the last, but you can help yourself avoid the modern rite of passage that affects so many students – losing that 100-page paper 15 minutes before clicking “submit “. Most computers have automatic backup features you can set in case you forget.