Safer Internet Day 2021: Our 6 security tips for home-schooling

We are issuing advice to home-schooling parents and guardians as one in five say they are not confident their children are safe online*.

County Broadband is urging families to “future-proof” their online security on Safer Internet Day (February 9), a national initiative which this year is focused on creating a secure online environment for young people to learn, and the firm has shared a free Advice Guide “How to keep your children safe online” in support.

As part of a wider drive to ensure all families have reliable internet access for home-schooling, County Broadband is engaging with over 160 villages across East Anglia to build ‘future-ready’ full-fibre broadband infrastructure, backed by millions of pounds of private funding from Aviva Investors.

The “bullet-proof” reliability of the new digital infrastructure – the first major upgrade since the copper-based networks were built by the Victorians – as well as the huge rise in available speeds of 1,000 Mbps it will bring will help make connections more robust for home-schooling, working at home and running businesses remotely.

For more details and to find out you’re located within the rollout area, please visit www.countybroadband.co.uk

Lloyd Felton, chief executive of County Broadband, said: ““Today we are supporting Safer Internet Day “together for a better internet”, offering some helpful tips to those parents and guardians to help keep their children safe online.

“Online security is vitally important and truer today than ever before as more young people rely on the internet for home-schooling. It’s crucial that children have a safe and secure space to learn and collaborate with their tutors and friends, whilst parents and guardians are confident that they are keeping their family safe online during these precarious times.

“Security incidents are rising with sophisticated and even amateur attackers, exploiting this temporary new way of digital life we urge families, remote workers and business owners – to heed all the advice provided on Safer Internet Day and continue to use going forward.

The Essex-based firm has released best practice tips as part of Safer Internet Day for home-schooling families and those working from home.

6 online security tips to stay safe at home

1. Implement safety controls and privacy restrictions

Your child may need to download programs for remote learning so create a list of everything they’re using and regularly monitor them. The apps and software should be relatively safe to use but review all the security settings and make suitable changes. If in doubt, always make sure that a parent or carer is in the same room. Internet Matters.org goes into further detail here.

2. Communication channels

Ensure your youngsters are only using official and approved communication channels, such as your school’s online portal or the correct secure messaging site.

3. Look out for the ‘s’ in “//https” on the address bar of the websites you are visiting

Next time you or your child visits a website, including through independent research, check to see if it starts http or https. The ‘s’ stands for secure and confirms you’re visiting the intended website. Avoid entering personal details or otherwise engaging with websites which aren’t https.

4. Social media – stay updated

You’re probably familiar with legacy social media apps such as Facebook and Twitter and can rely on your experience and instinct with keeping children safe. But how about TikTok? Have your heard of Triller? Be inquisitive and ask your children about the latest social media apps they’re using. Ask them to give you a demo of the latest fad app. Inspect the messaging and look at the advertising.

5. Online bullying

Teenage bullying is reportedly on the rise partly due to the pandemic, with many children facing greater isolation and other pressures. A separate YouGov poll found that one in four young people will experience cyberbullying at some point. Get expert advice and tips from the National bullying helpline, NSPCC advice, Childline advice, Bullying UK and Anti-Bullying Alliance.

6. Talk to your children with conversation starters

Just simply sitting down and chatting with your children can be a massive help. Talk about the internet with them and hear any concerns they might have. This is a great chance to set rules and boundaries and remind them that normal classroom behavior is expected for online classes.

*Survey of 1,000 adults living in urban areas in England and 1,000 adults living in rural areas in England conducted by Opinium on behalf of County Broadband during the Covid-19 lockdown, 2020

**NSPCC, 2020