Keep Children Safe while Learning Remotely

Oct 8, 2020

The advent of virtual classrooms, while effective in mitigating exposure to COVID—19 during this pandemic, serves to blur the line between a child’s online and offline world in a way that has never before been experienced.

October 17 – 23 is National School Safety Week and this year, in light of the extenuating circumstances, the Canada Safety Council would like to use this opportunity to showcase the importance of being safe in the digital age.

“While growing up in today’s world means some exposure to online risk factors,” said Gareth Jones, President and CEO of the Canada Safety Council, “our need to pivot to an online-first method of delivery in many education systems shines a bright light on the risks associated with the online experience.”

As part of the learning process, children are being given access to tools that require logging in using a username and password. This information should be guarded very closely and is not to be shared with anyone. At a time where so many are reliant on online access, cybercriminals are very aware of this fact and unsecured accounts make for easy targets.

To share links to resources, documents and downloads, e-mail is frequently the method of choice. It’s important to look at where a link is taking you before clicking. Does the tracking information that shows up when you hover over the link match up with the URL address you’re being told? If not, be wary — this could be a spoofed login page or a phishing attempt. Carelessness can creep into your habits in a hurry, and that’s exactly the kind of habit being preyed upon by cybercriminals.

Social aspects of the education system are important, which is why teachers across Canada are doing what they can to foster positive relationships between their students. However, the Internet can also become a major liability if cyberbullying enters into the equation. Parents should be vigilant in ensuring their child is not being victimized. The Canada Safety Council offers an online course on cyberbullying, outlining actions that can be taken to mitigate the threat.

In the context of online learning, voice and type chat continue to be the main vehicles being used. Make sure your children understand that these should not serve as windows into their whole lives and that some information should not be given out online — even to friends.

Online learning is a new phenomenon in the lives of many Canadians. It’s only through patience, empathy, understanding and willingness to work together that we’ll generate as positive an experience as possible for young learners across the country.

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 For more information, please contact:
Lewis Smith
Manager, National Projects, Canada Safety Council
lewis.smith@safety-council.org