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It’s hard to believe, but back to school season is yet again upon us. And while some things are the same—shopping lists filled with classroom essentials and a new shoe size—others may look a little different. With some districts still offering online learning, your annual back to school “talk” outlining safety precautions about walking alone and emergency contacts may also need to include some general online safety tips. But don’t fret, we’ve compiled them all into a nifty little guide for you right here:

Accounts and passwords

First things first: When it comes to navigating anything online, the most important thing to remember is that your account is only as safe as the strength of your password. Whether you’re trying to prevent account takeovers, or bar unauthorized access to sensitive information, the first line of defence should always be a strong password.

If you want to know whether yours is strong enough, make sure it includes all the following:

  • does not contain any personal information (your name, birthdate, etc.)
  • has minimum 8 characters
  • has a number in it
  • has a special character in it
  • Contains both uppercase and lowercase letters

An additional little tip is to avoid using the same password for all your accounts, ensuring the safety of the rest of your accounts in case one does get compromised.

Online chats

It’s not far fetched to think that spending time online will also naturally lead to social interactions—from school regulated class chat rooms to more ambiguous comment sections and new DMs. Of course, not all interactions online are to be feared, and can build strong friendships and make lasting impressions. But it’s still good practice to follow a simple list of Dos and Don’ts:

online safety

Cyber bulling:

The internet isn’t perfect. In the case that your child starts receiving harassing or threatening messages, there are a few ways to take the next appropriate actions.

If the message is coming through an app, most apps nowadays include a ‘block’ option right in the conversation itself, and some (like Instagram) even have a ‘report’ option, where the account/profile that is harassing you may be taken down if found to be violating the app’s terms of use.

If the message you receive is threatening in nature, contact with the legal authorities is recommended. They will be able to work with the app’s abuse team to gather more information on the account in question and take more lasting action than a simple messaging block.

If you find yourself needing more help than these quick tips, remember that a phone number holds a lot of power. Especially when it’s free, and easy to use to call a friend, family member, or even a hotline:

National Bullying Prevention Center 

Stop Bullying

American Cyber Tip Line

Canadian Cyber Tip Line

 

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