7 Lessons for Keeping Kids Safe Online and Teach Digital Citizenship During School Closures

In light of COVID-19, there has been a surge in children’s screen time and internet usage, which can be attributed to online learning and social distancing limiting interactions with friends and teachers. A recent Axios article indicated that children are spending at least 50% more time in front of screens daily and that a majority are using “screen devices either a lot more (at least 50% more), twice as much, or for what feels like ‘most of the day’ during the novel coronavirus pandemic.” As much of the world continues to practice social distancing, it is unlikely that the time kids spend using screens and the internet will decrease anytime soon and this will only increase the need to keep kids safe online.

Here Are 7 Lessons to Help Keep Kids Safe Online While School are Closed

We all play a part in teaching and demonstrating responsible technology use with the children and students in our life. Use these lessons to help promote online safety for kids.

1. Think before you post. Before you post or comment, think about how the things you say online will make others feel – and the impression you’re leaving of yourself.

Empower Students to Be Safe and Healthy Online

The Digital Wellness Network is a public-private coalition of corporations, nonprofits, and educators committed to mitigating the negative impact of unhealthy technology use by empowering students to make safe and healthy decisions.

2. Don’t over-share.It can be tempting to share personal details with your networks– especially as “quarantine challenges” on social media go viral which encourages sharing. But what you share may be viewed by more than just your friends. Keep in mind that anyone can screenshot or share something that you post, then remember tip 1. This is true of images, videos, or other content about yourself and your friends and family.

3. Make your settings private. Whenever you join a new social network, online game, or app, choose settings to keep certain details about yourself (including your location) private. Check the default privacy settings. The best way to prevent access to your personal information is not to share it, so always check your privacy settings. If you’re not sure, ask an adult.

4. Avoid questionable links and downloads. The U.S. Secret Service alerted that phishing attempts and malicious attachments are on the rise as companies respond to COVID-19. The best way to protect your computer from malware is to be careful when clicking links or downloading. If you don’t know the person who sent you a link, don’t click on it. Never download anything from sites offering free things that should cost money.

5. Ask for help if you need it. If you get comments or feedback that upset you, if someone you don’t know tries to get information about you, or if your computer is acting funny, tell an adult right away.

6. Find a good balance.There are lots of ways to manage your online time. You can set a timer or use an app to remind you to get up and take a break and try to prioritize finding a balance between time spent offline and time spent online. Not only will your eyes benefit from a screen-break, but your body and mind will too!

7. Mind Your Mind. Too much screen time can have a negative effect on both our physical and our mental health. If you find yourself feeling increasingly sad, anxious, tired, frustrated, or any other negative emotions related to the time that you are spending online, take a break. Try to find offline activities that are also restorative: going for a walk, taking some deep breaths, drawing, coloring, or doing something creative, or even reading a book. At a time when lots of changes are taking place, it is more important than ever that we make mental wellness a part of digital wellness.

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EVERFI makes it easy for you to quickly reach thousands of students in a classroom setting and empower them with 21st century skills. We work with forward-leaning organizations everywhere to create custom-branded educational content.

Improving Digital Literacy Keeps Kids Safe Online

It’s become essential to provide youth with opportunities to learn how to be part of a positive online community, improve digital literacy, and understand the impacts of their digital footprint on safety and privacy. And many need direct practice to build the necessary skills to make healthy decisions regarding their online use and be productive digital citizens. Members of EVERFI’s Digital Wellness Network remain committed to this mission but have also undertaken additional initiatives to support students and local communities in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

For example, Altice USA, one of the Network’s founding partners, is ensuring households with students who are impacted by school closures have internet access through their Altice Advantage Internet product, opening outdoor emergency Wi-Fi hotspots to the public, and partnering with school districts in the New York Tri-state area to provide students with the ability to use hotspot networks to access the school’s network from home.

Online Digital Literacy Lessons

Since 2010, EVERFI has educated over 3 million students on digital literacy and wellness, while also gaining insights into the challenges that they face, the strengths that they possess, and the ways they interact with technology. In further recognition of the importance of this topic, EVERFI established the Digital Wellness Network, a public-private coalition of corporations, nonprofits, and educators committed to mitigating the negative impact of unhealthy technology use by empowering students to make safe and healthy decisions about technology. To learn more about Ignition, or EVERFI’s Digital Wellness Network, visit www.everfi.com/networks/digital-wellness-network/.