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Checklist and Tips for Parents to Keep Kids Safe Online this Summer

Practical tips and an Apps Checklist to help parents keep kids safe online during summer break from the Florida Consortium of Public Charter Schools (FCPCS) and Parents for Charter Schools

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (July 8, 2020) – Parents clearly have enough to w orry about keeping kids and other family members healthy and safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, but online risks loom as another threat to kids and families.

To help parents manage online risks to kids during this coronavirus summer, the Florida Consortium of Public Charter Schools (FCPCS) and its partner organization, Parents for Charter Schools, have pulled together practical tips and an apps checklist to help parents keep kids safe online.

"COVID-19 has forced the closing of schools and established online, distance learning as the new normal," said Robert Haag, President of FCPCS.  "Risks to children increase as they spend more time online; FCPCS and Parents for Charter Schools hope to help parents minimize many of the risks."

Here are several tips to help manage online risks and keep kids safe.  Please use good judgment in discussing any potential risks with children:

Focus on passwords.  Make sure passwords your family uses are secure, vary from site to site, and change regularly.  Work only on sites with password protection.  Utilize questions that authenticate who you are.  Do not share passwords or login information in response to email messages.

Install anti-virus protection and update it regularly.  Do not click on phishing emails from entities you don't know, as they allow malware to be downloaded on your computer.

Teach your kids the basics of online safety and carefully monitor their online activity.  Use content blocking tools; they are designed to protect you and your kids.  Be sure your kids don't communicate with strangers.

Connect only where you know it is safe.  Don't use Bluetooth for connections in a public space as it may allow a hacker access to your device.  Don't provide your login information in response to an email message from anyone.

Be skeptical of demands for credit card information.  This is especially important when asked to make purchases of educational materials.  Check product reviews on independent websites before buying anything online.

For more information on cybersecurity, check out these free parent guides: https://www.cisa.gov/publication/stopthinkconnect-parent-and-educator-resources, https://www.connectsafely.org/wp-content/uploads/securityguide.pdfhttps://www2.ed.gov/free/features/cybersecurity.html

In addition to online computer safety, be sure your kids connect safely with their cell phones.  Here is a checklist of apps that parents should know.  The list was compiled by Florida School Resources Officers and is not meant to be a complete list:

MEETME: A social media app that allows users to connect with people based on geographic proximity. Users can meet each other in person.

WHATSAPP: A popular messaging app that allows users to send texts, photos, voicemails, make calls, and video chat worldwide.  The app uses an internet connection on smartphones and computers.

KIK: Allows anyone to contact and direct message to another user. Kids can bypass traditional text messaging features. KIK gives users unlimited access to anyone, anywhere, anytime.

LIVEME: A live streaming video app with geolocation to share videos so a user can find out another user's exact location.

ASK.FM: The app encourages users to allow anonymous people to ask questions.

TIKTOK: An app used for creating and sharing short videos and popular with kids, but with limited privacy controls.

SNAPCHAT: One of the most popular apps in recent years. While the app promises users can take a photo/video and it will disappear, new features including “stories” allow users to view the content for up to 24 hours. Snapchat also allows users to see your location.

WHISPER: The anonymous social network that promotes sharing information with others. It also reveals a user’s location so people can meet.

Membership in Parents for Charter Schools is free.  Parents who sign up at https://flcpcs.memberclicks.net/index.php?option=com_mcform&view=ngforms&id=2001227#/ will receive a weekly email newsletter with information and tips to help children get the most from their charter school education.

About the Florida Consortium of Public Charter Schools

The Florida Consortium of Public Charter Schools (FCPCS) is the leading charter school membership association in the state, with a membership of nearly 75 percent of all operating charter schools.  Since its inception in 1999, FCPCS has been dedicated to creating a national model of high quality, accredited public charter schools that are student-centered and performance-driven.  FCPCS provides a wide array of technical support, mentoring, training, networking, and purchasing services to its membership, as well as serving as an advocate for all Florida public charter schools.

 

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