Protecting Student Online Privacy

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Identity theft is a serious problem.  Children, teenagers, adults and elderly people irrespective of age, gender and income level can all become victims. Indeed anyone with an identity in this world can be a target. Equally, identity thieves can also be anyone from our school, friends in our neighborhood, or a complete stranger. They can be an individual or a group of individuals. They can belong to the same country or orchestrate the entire crime from a different country. Everything amounts to one thing - money. Your information may not appear to have much value to you but for identity thieves it is part of a bigger picture that has immense value.

Securing our identifiable information is challenging, as it is not just on paper but also electronic.  Our identity has its presence in emails, social media sites, chat messengers, etc. Teenagers especially have to be educated on protecting personal information. In this regard, schools play an important role. Every educator must ensure that students know about protecting their privacy.

As educators, try to propose to the school administration to incorporate online safety practices as part of the school curriculum. Suggest workshops to present current trends in identity theft and fraud, and conduct them on a regular basis to ensure that the school, parents and students understand and remain aware.

Here are some practices for educators to follow:

  • Teach students not to share their personal information with strangers
  • Documents that contain personal information must be kept in a safe place
  • If documents containing personal information must be carried daily, have a photocopy of the original
  • Teach students to always have copies of the original documents containing personal information
  • Teach students to change their email passwords regularly and create strong passwords which are difficult to be cracked – a strong password has at least eight characters and contains a mix of letters, numbers and symbols
  • Teach them not to subscribe to free online games and other services by providing personal identifiable  information
  • Teach them never to share any personal information about themselves or family or known people online
  • Ask parents to monitor their children’s online activities
  • Teach students to install updated and strong anti-virus software on their Internet enabled devices
  • Teach them to shred documents when not needed and never leave sensitive documents unattended anywhere (home or outside)
  • Teach students that any postal mail, including letters, envelopes or documents, which mentions their name or family names should not be left unattended. If it is not important, shred it completely and dispose of it.
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