Online education: building firewalls for classrooms

The pandemic has forced the education sector to shift from physical to online spaces. It has been a year of digital learning for students all over the world and, thanks to technology, educational institutions have been able to continue to operate quite easily.

However, there are pros and cons to any technology and its use in the education sector has been no different. Predators abound online and children as young as five and six, using virtual learning modules, are exposed to all kinds of risks. There are real threats to a child online and it is crucial to keep a close watch on their online activity. Sarabjot Singh Anand, Director, Computer Science and Engineering, BML Munjal University, says: “It is important to educate parents and children about risks. I remember a friend of mine telling me ten years ago when I visited him in Portugal that they had a policy that their child’s computer screen was not never allowed to face the wall. It meant kids knew their parents could look into their screens whenever they walked past.

Be in technical safety

It is our use of technology that determines how or to what extent it can influence us. The same principle can be applied to online learning, which, if done correctly, is a blessing. “Online learning is here to stay and, therefore, should be taken seriously and approached with enthusiasm. The first thing to do before introducing children to e-learning is to prepare them and get them interested in new ways of learning, ”says Dr Roma Kumar, Chief Psychologist and Co-Founder,

Children are too young to fully understand the dangers lurking on the Internet. Cyberbullying causes immense emotional, psychological and physical distress. Dr Kumar adds, “Kids are spending more time than ever before in front of their screens, which can lead to inadvertent browsing of websites that you don’t want them to access. Parents can install parental controls that can help filter websites, block apps, games, and other distracting media, and also regulate a child’s online shopping.

It is important to promote an atmosphere where children are not afraid to talk about anything with their parents, teachers and mentors. “There are also technical solutions, like firewalls that block access to dangerous sites and software to protect your device against cyber attacks, viruses and other threats. But the most effective weapon remains awareness and listening, ”explains Anand. Children should also be made aware that there are predators online. They should know at all times that parents and teachers are there to help them with any wrongdoing. A pragmatic policy regarding the treatment of internal wrongdoers should also be established.

Role of parents and educators

Cyber ​​bullies are looking for a reaction. Parents and educators can educate children by teaching children that the best way to deal with cyberbullying is to ignore their posts, comments, texts, and calls. Responding only makes the situation worse. “Try to block the bully. If the harassment comes in the form of instant messages, text messages, or profile comments, use preferences or privacy settings to block the person. If it’s a cat, leave the chat room, ”says Dr. Kumar.

Reporting such incidents is particularly important, and educational institutions, as well as parents, need to make children feel empowered. Dr Kumar suggests that they should communicate with them daily and closely monitor changes in mood and behavior. “Talk to kids about appropriate and inappropriate interactions with their peers online and help them identify behaviors that may constitute cyberbullying. If they see their peers cyberstalking, ask them to alert you immediately.

Counselors and therapists, who can teach children to cope with and respond to cyberbullying in healthy ways, should be involved. Developing effective coping strategies can help children weather such storms while building their resilience and emotional agility.

Advice for children

Keep your virus and malware scanners up to date, and make sure you only share your personal information with people whose identity you are sure. “Treat all emails or messages as suspicious and carefully validate their origin, because phishing attacks and malware are real. Use virtual backgrounds when making online calls, as inadvertently showing real backgrounds can reveal personal information, ”suggests Anand.

There is a need to strike a balance while providing online education for children. But to take advantage of technology and make the most of what it offers, constant vigilance is crucial.

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