Education has been rapidly evolving over the past few decades. There were times when we used to study from books and notes alone. From combing books and journals in a library to running after professors for an answer, extensive research on any topic was not an easy task.
Things were tough back then…
But now, things are completely different, for good. With the easy availability and accessibility of the Internet, exploring topics has never been easier. In fact, 21st century children are gaining knowledge at a more rapid pace than we did at their age.
Regardless, the Internet also comes with its fair share of cons just like every other utility in the world. Amongst those cons, online privacy and security are the most concerning.
In this safe browsing guide for students, you will learn about the cons of the Internet that can put students’ safety and security at risk. You will also learn about the options you have when it comes to protecting yourself online, while enjoying the Internet and everything it has to offer.
To Begin With, What Is Safe Browsing?
As the name suggests, safe browsing means surfing the Internet while preventing yourself from getting into any troubles or dangers that the Internet harbors.
And, how do you keep yourself out of those dangers…? Through better knowledge and understanding!
Surfing safely on the Internet doesn’t mean restricting yourself from accessing websites, or banning the use of social media, or imposing any other strict restrictions for that matter.
Safe browsing means educating students on the dangers of the Internet, safe web browsing habits or practices, and such.
Why Do You Need Safe Browsing?
You might be wondering, why there is a need for a safe browsing guide for students. Or, why would students need to know about safe web browsing techniques?
Students, be it high-school, college or university, tend to be attracted to open networks or public Wi-Fi more than other Internet users. Ultimately, their need to connect to free network makes them more vulnerable to hacking and other cyberattacks.
By using safe Internet browsing practices, students can learn how they can keep their privacy intact while exploring the digital space.
The Dangers of Unsafe Browsing Students Should Know About
According to a 2015 Internet security threat report by Symantec, 10% of the reported cybersecurity incidents involved the education sector?
There could be dozens of reasons why the education sector faces the threat of online breaches or specifically why hackers target students. Amongst those reasons, it is highly likely that it is easy for hackers to target students who use public networks that are usually provided by the college or university.
College or university networks are usually weak in terms of security. After all, not every college or university has the right resources to maintain a high level security layer on their IT infrastructure.
Regardless, there are a great number of dangers that could fall upon students who don’t stay cautious while surfing the Internet. For instance:
- Child Identity Theft: Did you know that US consumers experienced over $16 billion damage in 2016 alone due to fraud and identity theft? These bad practices aren’t limited to adult victims but students as well. By using students’ social security number or their parent’s credit card numbers, hackers enjoy illegal money while the students weep.
- Cyberbullying: Unsafe Internet browsing activities can lead students to cyberbullying attacks. People who take pleasure in bullying other students without any pity, often leads to a student’s death. After all, when it is continued for a prolonged period, cyberbullying turns into harassments.
- Cyberstalking: Cyberstalking is equally dangerous for students as cyberbullying is. Cyber-stalkers stalk their victims both online and physically. Sometimes, they take cyberstalking a level above and turn it into online harassments. The cyber-stalker may send threatening messages to the victim or even send fake mails or messages to people in the victim’s circle.
- Online Predators: There are also sexual predators on the Internet lurking around on usually social media platforms or apps searching for kids or teenagers. These predators are expert impersonators and try to befriend teens and tweens for their ulterior motives.
This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the dangers of unsafe browsing.
Online Threats to Specific Age Groups
To further clarify what online threats that kids of specific age groups may face, let’s take a look at the following breakdown.
Internet Threats to Kids (5-7)
- Kids may end up downloading malware or any malicious tool while looking to download games or any other online media.
- They may fall victim to cyber-grooming where a person tries to develop a fake emotional bond with the child for purposes like sexual misconduct, kidnapping, extortion, etc.
- The kids may fell into the trap of sexual predators that impersonate as a younger person to gain kids’ trust.
- The kids may end up on an age-inappropriate website that has adult content, harmful recommendations/advices, gambling, etc.
Internet Threats to Tweens (8-12)
- Kids at this age are vulnerable to falling victim to not only cyber-grooming but also cyberbullying.
- They are also vulnerable to child identity theft as well as the identity theft of their parents. The cybercriminal may gain trust of the kids and ask them to share their social security number or their parent’s credit card number.
- Tweens are also vulnerable to malwares on the Internet as they also tend to download material from the Internet quite often.
- Adult content on the Internet is yet another threat to the physical and emotional development of kids of this age.
Internet Threats to Teens (13-19)
- The teen years on the Internet can be quite risky for students when it comes to cyberbullying.
- Teens are more likely to fall victim to online predators on social media since they are more curious to meeting strangers on the Internet.
- Teenage students are also vulnerable to online blackmailing, fraud and sexual harassment that are usually caused because their risqué images/videos are leaked.
- Teenagers are also at serious risk of identity theft that can happen if they lose their credit card number or social security number to a hacker or evil social engineers online.
Fear Not! Here Are Some Services You Can Turn To In Above Cases
Due to the proliferation in cases like child identity theft, cyberbullying, cyberstalking and harassment, there are some services that have emerged to help victims involved in such threats.
- IdentityTheft.Gov: An official website where child victims of identity theft can report the incident and get it recovered by the service. It is important for parents to check their child’s credit report and if there’s any anomaly, report immediately.
- StopBullying.Gov: It is better to talk to someone and get immediate help when it comes to cyberbullying. If you feel that the people responsible for bullying are getting more control, report them immediately through this service.
- FightCyberstalking.Org: Cyberstalking is more dangerous than identity theft since here you are physically at risk of being threatened. If you are sure that someone is cyberstalking you, visit this website to learn how you can report it.
- Ice.Gov: Online predators or people involved in online sexual harassments or exploits are hard to catch if you try to catch them by yourself. Take help from the ICE’s cybercrime unit to keep your children safe from online predators.
Safe Browsing Guide for Students – Safe Web Browser for Kids
Fortunately, Internet is not all bad when it comes to cybersecurity. There are some safe internet browsing practices that can keep students safely tucked away from the online dangers. But before moving on to the tips, let’s first check out some safe web browsers for kids.
It is an organized website that provides a plethora of educational information for students. With Kid Info, students, especially kids, never need to look up for topics on the Internet that ultimately lead them to inappropriate websites.
It is a Google powered safe web browser for kids. The website has a custom filter working from the behind that allows kids to read only “suitable results.”
Yet another kids-suitable safe web browser that offers some decent parental control features as well as its own web email client.
It is a student-dedicated search engine platform that shows only relevant results to students. The search engine is best for teens.
Important Tips for Safe Browsing for Kids & University Students Alike
As mentioned earlier, you can’t expect students to explore and learn new things on the Internet when you are the one imposing heavy restrictions. As a teacher, it is important to educate students about Internet etiquettes. Inform them about the dangers that are present and thriving on the Internet. Inform them about the consequences of these dangers, so students can avoid them in future.
Keep Web Browsers Updated
Most cyber breaches occur on systems that use outdate versions of OS or browsers. Due to security vulnerabilities in old version of a software, it becomes easy for hackers to compromise a device or network. Therefore, always keep your Internet browser up to date to kill the possibility of a security vulnerability.
Avoid Downloading Anything Free
While surfing a website, a student may come across ads on website that offer something for free. Often, the offers are genuine, but not always. Sometimes, the offer may include downloading a free tool which might be a key-logger or any other malicious tool. So, it is best to avoid any unnecessary tool or free media on the Internet.
Use Secure Websites
Students should always use secure websites for payment transactions, emails or any other sensitive online activity. You can differentiate between a secure website and an unsecure website through the address bar. Look for the “HTTPS” on the address bar and if a website doesn’t have one, it is better to search for an alternative. A website with HTTPS enabled, keeps your data secure through encryption.
Be a Little Privacy Conscious
It is a fact that kids, teens or tweens are more prone to sharing personal information online than adults. After all, you don’t always share anything personal for fame alone but also out of sympathy for others. Regardless, be a bit more privacy conscious when it comes to sharing things online. For instance, when you surf your social profiles, set privacy settings to either friends only or me.
Install Protective Tools
Students should never use a system that doesn’t have any online security tool installed for instance antivirus or antimalware. With an antivirus installed, you never have to worry about viruses getting into your system and compromising it. Apart from an antivirus, students should also install a virtual private network (VPN). A VPN not only allows students to use the Internet anonymously but also it keeps the sensitive information secure with encryption.
To Summarize It…
Now that you have learned some great browsing practices in this safe browsing guide for students, it is time you implement what you have learned and share it with your friends and family so that there are less people falling victim to online threats in the future.