School season is back in full swing, and it’s essential to equip yourself with the latest back-to-school tech tips to ensure a secure and productive learning experience.
That means students, parents, and teachers are considering questions about technology, screen time, and digital security.
For many kids, school-issued devices take up more space in their backpacks than books. And as the world becomes more connected, kids are using smartphones, watches, and other communication devices at younger ages.
That highlights the need for strong cybersecurity protections implemented by the institutions and parents responsible for these students and their devices and an increased sense of responsibility from the students using the devices themselves.
CMIT Solutions understands this need, and we’ve worked over the past few years to help school districts, education organizations, and everyday families proactively protect their data, their devices, and their digital identities. Here are a few of our favorite back-to-school tech tips for 2023:
- Emphasize the importance of cybersecurity. With an increased reliance on digital devices, security becomes a top priority. All computers, laptops, tablets, and smartphones should have the latest security updates and antivirus software installed. Students and parents should use strong, unique passwords for every login, and multi-factor authentication should be implemented as an added layer of protection. Data should be backed up to cloud storage or external drives regularly to protect against unexpected information loss. And everyone should know the importance of connecting only to secure Wi-Fi networks. All of these tactics should help secure everyone’s digital identities.
- Avoid unfamiliar communications with unknown senders. When kids are empowered with new phone numbers or email accounts, excitement usually follows. Unfortunately, scammers know how to take advantage of that sensation, trying to trick new users with emails that look like official school communications and include malicious links or infected email attachments. Make sure everyone in your family and at your place of work—kids, adults, digital beginners, and seasoned users alike—understands how critical it is to NEVER open ANY attachments or click on ANY links in ANY message from an unknown sender. And even if you do recognize the sender, be careful with links to Google Docs or other shareable files. On desktops and laptops, you can hover over links to see if the destination URL matches the one advertised in the message.
- Establish digital etiquette and privacy norms. Whether you’re learning or working virtually, it’s essential to establish clear guidelines for online etiquette and digital privacy. Encourage students to be respectful and attentive during online classes and teach them about the importance of respecting the privacy of their peers and instructors. Perhaps parents can share information about how they conduct themselves during online meetings or discuss the consequences they’ve experienced from accidentally sharing sensitive information online. The online world is an extension of the real world—for people of all ages—and similar standards of behavior should apply.
- Set healthy limits for time management and digital wellness. Technology has the power to both enhance and disrupt productivity. Teach students the importance of managing their screen time and setting designated study hours. But instead of focusing solely on the number of hours spent on screens each day, health experts say the type of content we consume is more important. Consider using productivity apps that help organize tasks and create a balanced daily routine. Break down screen time into allotted blocks of education, entertainment, employment, and engagement to help set solid boundaries. Encourage breaks and physical activity to prevent digital fatigue. And educate students about the potential negative impacts of excessive screen time on mental and physical health, emphasizing the value of moderation.
- Stay informed and set parental controls as necessary. Technology is constantly changing, and staying informed about the latest trends is vital for maintaining online safety. Discuss emerging technologies such as virtual reality, artificial intelligence, and interactive learning platforms so everyone is aware of them. Investigate how these trends are being used by your kids and coworkers so they can be used for engaging and immersive purposes. The most important thing is healthy communication. Before device use starts up for the school year, talk about application permissions and web-surfing protocols. Most school-issued machines will come with pre-installed parental controls and limits on non-educational activity. But make sure you and your student(s) discuss what happens during non-school hours and what kind of personal Internet use is allowed. Popular web browsers like Google Chrome, Firefox, Microsoft Edge, and Internet Explorer all offer security options and content filters that can be customized by kids and parents. If your learner likes to compromise, consider trading extra screen time for the use of parent-approved, kid-friendly browsers, apps, and social media networks.
- Research your options and seek professional support. Whatever you’re in the market for—a new laptop, an upgraded smartphone, a USB charger, or the latest version of popular software—don’t just make a purchase blindly. Instead, do your homework, read reviews, research different purchasing options, and enlist the help of a trusted IT partner who can help you make the right choice for your budget and day-to-day needs. Developing that kind of rapport with a provider can help you ensure the new device is set up and deployed correctly with proper maintenance and support.
The back-to-school season is an exciting time that comes with the promise of new learning opportunities and personal growth. These tips can help students, teachers, and parents harness the power of technology to create an enriched experience that starts in the fall and extends all year long.
CMIT Solutions is here to help every step of the way as your trusted IT provider.
Contact us today if you encounter digital privacy issues, need recommendations for educational software, or require help installing new software. Our team is equipped with the knowledge and expertise to ensure that your back-to-school experience is smooth and successful.