Monday, December 11, 2017

Digital Safety Among Students

While hailing new technologies at China’s Ujena, CEO of Apple Inc, Tim Cook, shared quite a few concerns. He said, “Much has been said about the potential negative aspects of artificial intelligence. I am not worried about machines that think as people, I worry about people who think as machines. We need to work together to introduce technology to humanity. Technologies can change the world for the better, if they are embedded in humanity.” Although the effects of Artificial Intelligence are yet to unveil, 
the expansion of the digital world has made it difficult to keep kids, especially teenagers away from various digital equipment, social media platforms and the cyber world.

The world has become a compact community and there is a lot of pressure of connecting, knowing things and people better and sharing ‘stories, status, events, location and even pictures’The clutches of cybercrimes are becoming stronger day by day and the easiest to fall prey are the teenagers as for them social media has become the way of life. Thanks to the sharing culture on social media, it has become as easy to be fall prey to a cybercrime as it is to press the 'like' button on Facebook. Emails purportedly from friends or even from banks lure them into clicking on infected links or attachments containing malware, which have the effect of compromising online actions.

Cybercrime, or computer oriented crime, is crime that involves a computer and a network. The computer may have been used in the commission of a crime, or it may be the target. Cybercrimes can be defined as: "Offences that are committed against individuals or groups of individuals with a criminal motive to intentionally harm the reputation of the victim or cause physical or mental harm, or loss, to the victim directly or indirectly, using modern telecommunication networks such as Internet (networks including but not limited to Chat rooms, emails, notice boards and groups) and mobile phones (Bluetooth/SMS/MMS). The kind of cybercrime to which teenagers are prone to is CYBER BULLYING. Cyber bullying or cyber harassment is a form of bullying or harassment using electronic forms of contact. Cyber bullying has become increasingly common, especially among teenagers. Harmful bullying behavior can include posting rumors about a person, threats, and sexual remarks, disclose victims' personal information, or pejorative labels (i.e., hate speech). Bullying or harassment can be identified by repeated behavior and intent to harm. Victims may have lower self-esteem, increased suicidal ideation, and a variety of emotional responses, retaliating, being scared, frustrated, angry, and depressed. Individuals have reported that cyber bullying can be more harmful than traditional bullying. (Source Wikipedia)

Kids have impressionable minds and the digital world is tempting and vivid. Therefore, it becomes our duty as parents and teachers to help the kids balance and keep a safe distance from this virtual world and protect them from cybercrimes especially cyber bullying. The first step in this direction would be to win the faith and trust of the kids to such an extent that they wouldn’t need social approval to feel good about themselves. The connection between the kids and parents and students and teachers should be strong enough so that there is constant communication and sharing of thoughts and ideas which will make them comfortable in talking about their actions. They should be guided by the parents and teachers that safety should be their priority and the world of social media is, virtual and the real world has to be kept at a safe distance from it.

The next step should be to follow certain guidelines to ensure that we are keeping our kids away from the negative effects of internet.

The need of safe and effective internet policy and supervision of computers in schools

Schools need to promote a safe and secure educational environment for effective teaching and learning and to discourage students from actions detrimental to themselves, their peers and the value system. Schools are, thus, advised to take the following measures to preempt any inappropriate and illegal activity through IT enabled devices in schools:

·      Schools must have a set of guidelines for pupils which govern their use of the Internet and other digital technologies and which are used as a basis for education in responsible Internet use. 
·      A designated role with first-line responsibility for a safe and effective use policy should be assigned to a senior manager e.g. Principal/ICT Coordinator.

·      A policy for safe and effective use that is understood and acted upon by the whole school community can help to ensure a safe learning environment. Any policy should stress the considerable educational benefits of using the Internet.

·      Safe location and supervision of computers in schools is a must. Computers should be in highly visible areas of the school and pupils using the Internet should, where possible, be supervised.  

·      Educate students for the safe and effective use of the Internet.

·  Install effective firewalls, filtering and monitoring software mechanisms in all the computers and regularly review filtering and blocking policies and procedures. Various types of unsolicited contents available on internet must be blocked. Isolate Internet access from other school Network.

·  Configure end user computer devices with parental control filters / Antivirus of appropriate standard.

·      Deploy Digital Surveillance system.

·      Supervise and monitor all online activities in the light of educational objectives.

·      Allow Children to access only pre-selected websites appropriate to their age group.

·      Aware the teachers and other school staffs about Internet safety norms.

·  Take disciplinary action against those who attempt to bypass filtering or to access inappropriate or illegal material in schools.

·     Comply with all relevant legislation on copyright, property theft, fraud, discrimination and obscenity on all forms of IT enabled devices.

·      Use only the licensed version of software. (Source: CBSE)

Internet Safety Awareness for Parents
Our natural desire is to keep children safe and this can only be done through the education and support we can all offer them. It is important that parents are equally able to guide and support their children in the online world so that they enjoy the benefits whilst avoiding the potential risks.
·      The best defenses against any online risks are openness, awareness and education: talk with your children about their online lives, share their experiences and learn from them, help them to use technology positively and responsibly, and give them boundaries, guidance and support.
·      While schools are under no legal obligation to provide internet safety advice to parents, it is a responsible step to take. There are a number of resources and websites to support parents:
Awareness among students about the perils like Cyber Bullying and Harassment should be spread through following instructions and warnings:

·   Bullying and harassment (cyber bullying) can occur through mobile phones as well as online.
·      Only talk online to people you know in the real world
·      There is information about you that you should not share online because it only belongs to you. Always tell your parents if someone asks you personal questions online.
·      Remember that advertising and messages that are sent by people you don’t know can give away your personal information or break your computer.
·      Show you care by not sending messages that are mean to other people, or sharing messages that are not kind.
·      If you read something that is not nice tell an adult you trust. They can’t help protect you and make sure other people don’t get hurt.
·      Keep away from websites that are not made for kids and if you visit one by accident, close it and tell your teacher or an adult you trust.
·      Show respect for other’s privacy by not trying to get into their online spaces
·      Do not share passwords with anybody except your parents
School staff, parents and students need to work together to prevent cyber crimes and to tackle it whenever it occurs. It’s unlikely that kids want to listen to an hour-long lecture on the dangers of the internet. Odds are that they would probably tune you out within the first 5 minutes. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t get them to listen... you just have to change your angle. Provide them with resources like the YouTube videos from Google Family Safety and Watch Well Cast: Playing and Staying Safe Online
To conclude I would share a case scenario discussed by Robert Lucas in his article, “The Teacher’s Guide to Keeping Students Safe Online
“Everyone likes to feel as if they are “right.” That sentiment is probably more accurate with your students than anyone else. Create fake scenarios about possible dangerous internet usage and pass them out to the class.  The scenario could read something like this: Anna is a 15 year-old girl with a Facebook account. She tries to keep her account as private as possible but has forgotten that her address is located under the information on her profile. One day she receives a message from a boy named ‘Matt.’ Matt has very few pictures and friends on his profile and seems very interested in meeting up with Anna.”  After students read the scenario ask them questions such as: “Are there any issues with this situation? What would you do if you were Anna?”
The goal is to allow students to arrive at their own conclusion (with our guidance) of the inherent danger in situations like these. By encouraging students to figure out the answer themselves, we not only empower them but educate them as well. Make it a point to encourage students to respect themselves and to remove themselves from any situation where they are uncomfortable, being bullied, or being attacked. Use these scenarios to teach students how to handle hurtful, uncomfortable, or dangerous situations.