February 28th is quickly approaching and although for many people this is going to be just another Thursday, schools nationwide will be celebrating Digital Learning Day.

Digital Learning Day is a day that promotes the efficiency of new technology and how it improves the learning experience for K-12 students. We can’t ignore the benefits that technology has had in the classroom, introducing children to new and innovative learning experiences while helping them reach new levels of creativity.

Nevertheless, with all this new tech, there are also dangers that few people talk about regularly. Schools store large amounts of personal information such as school supply invoices, emergency contacts, payroll information and more. All this information is extremely valuable to hackers who steal and sell it on the black market for millions, making schools a desired target for cyber-criminals. According to the K-12 Cybersecurity Resource Center, 422 schools have been victims of cybersecurity-related incidents since 2016.

To better protect our schools and students, it’s time we take action at every level in the district. It’s not enough for districts to rely on the IT department to make sure their network is protected. Everyone must be involved in providing a safe online environment at schools.

Here are 5 cyber safety tips for school districts this Digital Learning Day:

  1. Train staff and teachers throughout the year with an ongoing security awareness program. Teach them about ransomware, phishing, scams and online etiquette.
  2. Make cybersecurity a priority within the district by hiring an expert to create and maintain a secure environment.
  3. Provide information about the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) to all schools so they understand privacy and safety expectations.
  4. Educate parents using the Safe and Secure Online materials so they understand the risk of technology and online dangers.
  5. Implement digital citizenship education in the classrooms to teach children online safety in and outside the classroom.

The sooner we start investing on cyber safety education for younger students, the better off we’ll be in the future. Teaching young children about personal information can be an arduous task, but with Garfield’s Cyber Safety Adventures, its easier than ever. Visit https://iamcybersafe.org/school-program/ for school resources.

 

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