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UK cybersecurity director offers tips for keeping students safe online

Posted at 12:54 PM, Sep 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-07 19:57:09-04

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — The internet is literally at your kids' fingertips, and with so many students learning online because of the COVID-19 pandemic, they have constant access throughout the day.

To make sure children stay safe, the University of Kentucky’s Director of Cybersecurity George Insko says the most important step is having an open conversation.

“About what is expected computer behavior, what outcomes they want to have, what the schedule is going to be, what apps and who they should be talking to,” said Insko.

Just because school has already started doesn't mean it's too late to have that conversation. Make sure your kids are active participants.

“Have the kids be the teacher and show them the apps that they're using and have the kids say, 'This is why I'm using these apps and this is how I'm using these apps.' Then the parents can start using the apps and kind of learn why the kids are using the apps and what the dangers are,” said Insko.

When it comes to viruses or malware, there is less of a risk with school-provided computers.

“The district's information and technology shops do a really good job of patching those machines and keeping them up-to-date. That is probably the number one way to get compromised online,” said Insko. “They also have phishing protection for emails.”

There is still a risk though. So, Insko's advice comes back to open communication and monitoring to catch these issues as soon as possible.

“Have daily check-ins if they can, like a five-minute check-in in the morning, during lunch. Then have a regularly scheduled conversation when they get home about assignments,” he said.

Insko’s final tip is when kids are on the computer all day for school, make sure they spend time doing offline activities to relax when classes end.