Internet Safety for Students

Teaching students to protect themselves from sales schemes and scams.

Long before most students become aware of how to protect their digital data, they have already encountered schemes and scams that put their personal information at risk. Talking to our students about how to avoid getting scammed is an important part of teaching both financial literacy and digital literacy to students. To start the conversation, here are four common scams and tips on how to avoid them.

Scam #1: Emails that impersonate well-known companies.

These emails appear to be official communications from Apple, PayPal, AOL, or any other large company. They often try to get the recipient to click a link and provide personal information.

How to avoid it: Always look at the sender’s email address. The username and domain will not look like a typical email from the company, often containing a strange or generic username or an incorrect domain. If you’re still uncertain of the authenticity, you can contact the company by finding the customer service number on their web site. 

Be that teacher, the one with the lasting impact

Set up your EVERFI account to help your students build savvy spending and clicking habits.

Scam #2: Is this you?

Common on Facebook, scammers will hack into accounts and send private messages to a user’s friends. The message contains a link along with a short note like, “Is this video of you?!” Or “Is this blog about you true?”. People are often tempted to click on these links because they come from friends who are not aware that their account has been hacked. But clicking on the link will either download a virus or bring the users to a phony login page where the scammer can steal their account credentials.

How to avoid it: Clicking unknown links can be dangerous. Especially if the message seems out of character for the sender or is from someone you don’t know well. When in doubt, don’t click! Instead contact that friend directly and see if he/she really sent that message. 

Scam #3: Free V-bucks.

Online games such as Fortnite are wildly popular among gamers of all ages. Many of these games use their own currency for players to purchase special upgrades. While the game itself may not contain scams, apps and third party websites advertising “free” currency are deceiving. These apps and sites appear high-quality and legitimate but ultimately aim to steal identities or install malware.

How to avoid it: Although tempting, free virtual currency is just too good to be true. Never click on links or give personal information in exchange for money.  

Scam #4: Surprise Inheritances Are Almost Always Too Good to Be True.

This well-known scam, usually from a foreign country like Nigeria, attempts to convince the email recipient that they are somehow the lucky beneficiary of a large sum of money. All the recipient must do is pay the fees to transfer the money to their account. The scammer keeps the “fees” and of course never sends the millions of dollars that they promised.

How to avoid it: These emails are always littered with typos, they originate from a foreign country, and promise a large sum of money. Always delete any emails or messages from unknown senders that offer money. This and other scams that promise money for nothing are never legitimate.  

Critical Thinking

Internet safety for elementary through high school students begins with critical thinking. Asking themselves the following questions (and perhaps even putting them in an anchor chart) can help children and teens alike become more aware of their personal security:

  1. What is the source? Who sent the email, private message, or posted the link? Are they trustworthy?
  2. What are they asking for? Am I being prompted to give my password, full name, address, or birthday? Am I being asked to download something?
  3. What are the risks? Identity theft? A virus? A hijacked social media account?

The internet offers children and teens more opportunities for information and connection than ever before, however these opportunities come with increased responsibility. By teaching digital literacy skills such as protecting personal information, we will help our students browse more securely and become responsible digital citizens.

High School Teachers: Check out this lesson plan on insurance risk management to dive into ways to protect themselves from fraud, in a modern era.

Middle & High School Teachers: Consider logging into EVERFI and letting students explore the lessons in Ignition Digital Wellness & Safety to think critically about the online community they surround themselves with.

Middle School Teachers: Check out this lesson plan and student activity to extend the conversation on smart spending.

Elementary School Teachers: Download this lesson plan to dive into more risk prevention and management. Create your own anchor chart about Digital Risks and Digital Risk Protection ideas.

Be that teacher, the one with the lasting impact

Set up your EVERFI account to help empower your students to build savvy spending and clicking habits in a modern era.

Jennifer Fahey

Jen Fahey HeadshotJennifer Fahey has been a creative writer and blogger for over ten years. She’s recently had the pleasure of teaching preschool through elementary age children as well as providing administrative support to a humanitarian organization while working in Eastern Europe. Jennifer, along with her husband and their three children, are now happy to be settled back in their home of Boston, Massachusetts.