California Educator

February/March 2024

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W I T H T H E C A P A B I L I T I E S O F T E C H N O L O G Y expanding so rapidly, teaching students about cybersecurity and cyber safety is more important than ever. These are topics that need to be discussed and explored at all grade levels. Cybersecurity is the practice of protecting electronic devices, networks and sensitive information from unautho- rized access. It means proactively taking measures to ensure that confidentiality is protected and thoroughly checking out the resources that we use. Cyber safety refers to the practice of responsibly using technology and resources available through the internet. It is especially important to use care when accessing and sharing information online to avoid the risks and potential harm that can result, such as cyberbullying, hacking, phishing, identity theft, exposure to inappropriate content and other threats. With the increased use of AI in our schools through per- sonalized learning platforms and data analysis tools, we need to understand how to protect personal information from the risk of data breaches and other negative effects. Here are some strategies to keep your students safe: • Make time for conversations about cyber safety and the different ways that we can be good digital citizens. Students should know that just because the website exists or the resources are available, there are no guarantees that the information is valid and reliable. • Keep your machine safe. Teach students that links they might click on different websites or in emails, as well as downloading files from unknown sources, can lead to malware and viruses on their devices. Use antivirus programs to protect devices and keep software and operating systems updated. Log off after using comput- ers, especially in public. Be careful using public wi-fi. Don't share personally identifiable information — such as log-ons for banking or credit card accounts, as such information could be compromised. • Create strong passwords. Help students understand that a strong password is important, and help them create strong passwords. Create unique passwords that includes letters, numbers and symbols to make it more difficult for the passwords to be discovered. Have a dif- ferent password for each account. Remind students not to share passwords with friends. Show students different passwords and ask them to evaluate if they are secure. • Use two-factor authentication. Two-factor authenti- cation provides an additional layer of security; it usually involves sending a text message or an email to the person trying to access the account. The added secu- rity setting will prevent unauthorized access, even if a password is compromised. Remember to change the compromised password to avoid any further problems. • Check your privacy settings. Always check privacy settings when using social media, email, digital tools or other platforms. Understand what permissions you are granting to the apps and other software and how your information might be used and/or shared - check for a FAQ or standalone page that details this, and verify that the site settings are up-to-date. Compliance with COPPA (Children's Online Protection Privacy Act) and FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) is essential for any digital tools in and out of classrooms. Remind students to limit the personal information they share, such as name, birth date, location, social security num- bers and other sensitive data. Select different websites to explore and ask students to find the privacy information: Look for the COPPA and FERPA guidelines and see if they are in compliance; look at the terms of use, and the date of the last update of the website. On some websites, this information is listed on the "About" page or in a "FAQ" section; it is also sometimes listed on the main landing page. Students can check out Common Sense Media ( for ratings and informa- tion about the age use and privacy settings of different apps. You can create different scenarios and ask students to come up with solutions. For example, what should students do if they get an email telling them they 've won a prize, or there is an ad for a free game, and all they have to do is send their information? Another: Ask students about posting their driver 's license on social media. What problems could arise? Resources In my STEAM course, we use Nearpod ( lessons on cyber safety to cover important topics, such as cyberbullying, digital identities, social media and more. Com- mon Sense Media offers 23 lessons on internet safety. Be Internet Awesome ( helps students develop their internet safety skills online. To assess student understanding of cyber safety and cybersecurity, I have used Quizizz ( to create games or for ready-made games, lessons and quizzes. It helps us review and gives me data to adjust my lessons. This story originally appeared in Edutopia. Students and Cyber Safety Basics Teach students to protect their privacy and data online By Rachelle Dené Poth 52 Teaching & Learning

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