October is Cyber Security Month; this first week focuses on staying safe at home and on home devices. When we prepare networks and firewall settings for our K-12 clients, we are often asked to block access to social media and blogging sites. Our settings can restrict students from accessing these on the school internet connection, but we cannot restrict students from accessing the same sites/services from their data plan on their cellular device.
While we do believe that schools play a positive and important role in shaping student interactions online and teaching about online safety, we also believe that this oversight and monitoring of a personal device falls to the family. We have collected safety and setup guides to some of the top social media apps and services and shared them below. It is important to remember that most of our productivity apps also now have chat and communication components included: these collaboration components are critical for our current education and business climate. However, even apps designed for productivity can be utilized in other ways. It is also important to note that there are hundreds and perhaps thousands of anonymous chat/messaging apps available in the iOS and Google Play stores; your child and their peers may prefer to use an app that is not included on this list, but may have similar features and safety concerns.
It is hard to raise children in this era without allowing access to technology: we have 1:1 technology initiatives in our schools, we have smart devices in our homes, and we know that our future economy and career choices are tightly linked to technology. Take some time to talk to your children, visit sites and apps with them, and develop an open line of communication to solve problems together should they arise. We know from experience that dealing with tech problems is always easiest when we are proactive: when we take the time to setup the device and apps appropriately for the age of the child, we run into less issues further down the road.
Learn more about safeguarding privacy for children and teen online from The National Cyber Security Alliance.
Parent’s Guides to Social Media Apps and Services:
(also similar: Mixer, XBox Live)