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Cyber Safety

Help kids stay safe.

Due to school closings and stay-at-home orders resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, children’s increased online presence may put them at greater risk of child exploitation. The U.S. Department of Justice provided the below guidance for parents, guardians, caregivers, and teachers to help protect children from becoming victims of online child predators (also available as a PDF):

  • Discuss internet safety and develop an online safety plan with children before they engage in online activity. Establish clear guidelines, teach children to spot red flags, and encourage children to have open communication with you.
  • Supervise young children’s use of the internet, including periodically checking their profiles and posts. Keep electronic devices in open, common areas of the home and consider setting time limits for their use.
  • Review games, apps, and social media sites before they are downloaded or used by children. Pay particular attention to apps and sites that feature end-to-end encryption, direct messaging, video chats, file uploads, and user anonymity, which are frequently relied upon by online child predators.
  • Adjust privacy settings and use parental controls for online games, apps, social medial sites, and electronic devices.
  • Tell children to avoid sharing personal information, photos, and videos online in public forums or with people they do not know in real life. Explain to your children that images posted online will be permanently on the internet.
  • Teach children about body safety and boundaries, including the importance of saying ‘no’ to inappropriate requests both in the physical world and the virtual world.
  • Be alert to potential signs of abuse, including changes in children’s use of electronic devices, attempts to conceal online activity, withdrawn behavior, angry outbursts, anxiety, and depression.
  • Encourage children to tell a parent, guardian, or other trusted adult if anyone asks them to engage in sexual activity or other inappropriate behavior.
  • Immediately report suspected online enticement or sexual exploitation of a child by calling 911, contacting the FBI at tips.fbi.gov, or filing a report with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) at 1-800-843-5678 or report.cybertip.org.

Cyber Safety Video Series

CYBER.ORG and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) partnered to produce this Cyber Safety Series. This series of videos and accompanying fact sheets highlights common potential threats students and K-12 schools are likely to face online, as well as proactive steps individuals and institutions can take to stay safe online.

Internet of Things: While being able to turn lights on and off, or set your thermostat from your phone is convenient, there are risks involved. Because IoT devices are frequently being targeted by hackers and cyber criminals, here are a few tips to stay safe while also enjoying modern conveniences.

Social Media Safety: Social media can be a great way to connect with family and friends, share memes, get a good laugh, watch videos, and catch up with the latest dance craze or viral trend. Here are a few tips to make sure your social media experience is safe and secure!

Ransomware: Ransomware is a type of malware that holds a victims data for ransom. Ransomware attacks continue to be one of the most common cyber-attacks. Here are some tips to avoid ransomware and keep your information secure.

Phishing: Phishing is the process of scammers tricking you into giving them your personal information. It is typically done through electronic messages such as emails or text messages. The scammers send you messages while posing as an official institution to get you to respond in some way. Here are a few simple tips to protect you from getting phished!

Making Strong Passwords: We know it can get annoying to be forced to make such complicated passwords, but there's a reason for it! We have some tried and true methods for making a memorable password out of the required letters, numbers and special characters that will be secure and keep your information private.

Online Gaming Safety: Sometimes you want to game with your friends and they're all busy, and sometimes you just want to hop online and show off your video game skills to strangers. Here are some quick tips to make sure you're staying safe in the wide world of gaming and keeping your personal information private!

Video Call Safety: By now, we’ve all probably spent our fair share of time in virtual meetings / trainings / classrooms / etc. In this new world of video calls, it’s more important than ever that we use good cyber safety practices during every meeting we attend. Here are a few simple rules to follow when participating in a video call to ensure you stay safe and keep all your private information…well private.

Tools for K-12 Leaders: Prevent, Respond, and Recover from Ransomware Attacks: As the threat of cyber-attacks looms ever larger over K-12 schools and districts, it's never been more important to be proactive in protecting your district and student data from malicious actors. Join Ben Gilbert, Cybersecurity Advisor for CISA (Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency), Region 3, as he shares tools, resources, and no-cost services to help K-12 decision-makers prevent and recover from ransomware attacks.

Cyber Safety Resources

Video Conferencing: The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) has developed new cybersecurity recommendations for K-12 schools using video conferencing tools and online platforms. They also produced a tip sheet that you can share with your school staff and educators. The tip sheet is a great resource to send to your staff on best practices for cyber safety, download the tip sheet here.

Bug Bytes: This graphic novel communicates the dangers and risks associated with threat actors using social media and other communication platforms to spread mis-, dis-, and malinformation (MDM)

Cyber Safety Considerations for K-12 Schools and School Districts: This fact sheet includes information on the most common online threats students face, including cyberbullying, and describes how school and district administrators can prepare for and respond to online threats.

Electronic Media and Youth Violence: A CDC Issue Brief for Educators and Caregivers: This report educates the general public on the phenomena of electronic aggression, which is defined as any kind of aggression perpetrated through technology, and its role in public health, including among the school community.

Preventing Violent Extremism in Schools: This guide serves to educate school personnel about at-risk behaviors and activities that assist students with reducing social and psychological commitment to violence as a method of resolving a grievance.

StopBullying.gov: This website contains resources for youth, parents, schools, and others to better understand bullying and cyberbullying, including the warning signs, those particularly at risk, and prevention tips.

Technology and Youth: Protecting your Child from Electronic Aggression: This tip sheet provides a general overview on what comprises electronic aggression, and what parents and caregivers can do to address and help prevent it.

NetSmartKids’ Be Safer Online:  An elementary-age focused cyber safety resource with interactive activities, videos, and games with a focus on being safe online.

School Security Assessment Tool (SSAT): The SSAT is designed to help inform your school’s safety and security planning process by taking stock of what security measures and associated supports are in place across your campus, and where you can make improvements to improve the safety and security of your school community. The tool focuses on protection (keeping people and property safe from threats and emergencies) and mitigation (reducing the damage or harm from safety-related incidents) and will help you apply the three physical security strategies of detection, delay, and response.

Cybersecurity K-12 Fact Sheet

How to Prevent Cyberbullying: A guide for Parents, Caregivers, and Youth

Social Media: Understanding a Teen’s World