Homeschooling all the way through high school has become more accessible than ever thanks to more available technology. Even students who attend traditional schools may use technology to access coursework and projects at home, because of situations ranging from group projects to snow days. This means your security needs to be tighter than ever to protect your school-age kids while they get their education. Here are five tips for protecting your homeschool tech.
- Surge Protection
It’s not just the cybersecurity of school-related technology you need to consider. You also need to ensure the technology is physically safe. If you’re working from home and you have multiple children attending online schooling during the day, your electrical wiring may be at risk of a surge, so installing a surge protection device would be a useful strategy to protect both your devices and your wiring. This will ensure your power doesn’t go out due to overexertion and that your devices will be protected from a surge.
- Mentoring Kids about Internet Usage
One of the best things you can do to ensure your child’s educational technology is protected is to mentor him or her in using technology and the internet. Educate yourself about cybersecurity and safe internet usage, and model good internet etiquette and usage for your children. Have engaging discussions with your kids and teens about internet safety, the things they do online, and the sites they visit. By definition, mentorship is a type of education, so as your children become more used to online schooling, you should give them more responsibility and trust them to manage themselves and their internet usage, particularly when they hit their teenage years.
- Using a VPN
VPNs, or Virtual Private Networks, encrypt your data end-to-end across your internet connection. A VPN needs to be installed on each individual device, but that’s a simple installation and it provides plenty of benefits. Installing a VPN on the devices your teens use for schoolwork will help protect any sensitive data they might be accessing or transmitting while attending online school. Because a VPN is easily installed and turned on, it can be used to protect your internet connection whether they are using your private wifi or public wifi.
- Employing Strong Antivirus Software
Strong antivirus software can work in tandem with a VPN to protect your devices. This software is meant to monitor a device for malware or malicious activity and periodically clear out or quarantine those threats for you. Because online schooling may require students to visit various websites for research, an antivirus program can help by protecting your homeschooler in case they accidentally end up on less secure websites. You should gently remind your teens to periodically check and update their antivirus software to ensure security patches are applied and their cybersecurity is as comprehensive as possible.
- Monitoring Your Children’s Schooling
While older children and teens should have more responsibility and more of your trust when it comes to their internet usage, both in their schooling and in their personal lives, every child does need some level of monitoring. Young children should be consistently monitored, and as your kids grow up you should check in with them periodically. A best practice for online schooling monitoring is to have your kids attend school in public areas in your home. Encourage them to use the kitchen table when attending lectures and their bedrooms when doing homework or projects, for example. You can employ filters to keep your children from accessing dangerous websites, but make sure you’re aware of their browsing histories without relying on the filter, as websites can sometimes slip through the cracks.
Generally, the cybersecurity measures you employ for protecting your homeschool tech will be similar to the measures you use for your own personal and work devices. However, you need to model good internet etiquette and monitor your children’s online activities without becoming overbearing, both of which can be hurdles.