ONLINE SAFETY EVENTS
Tri School Digital Safety Parent Panel
Rita Fabi, Havens parent and former Online Security Director at Facebook, and Lisa Rager, Beach parent and security expert at Tesla, led a very informative discussion about what parents should look out for and tools we can use to reduce the safety and security risks when our kids are online. The Recommendations, Resources and Safety Watchouts below have been provided by the panelist.
You can find the slides from their panel discussion here.
PUSD December 2020 Presentation
Adam Saville, Piedmont Middle School Technology Coordinator shared a presentation focused on supporting elementary students' technology use. This presentation covers what steps PUSD is taking to safeguard laptops, educate students about digital citizenship and tips about balancing screen time.
Note: Internet Searching on PUSD Chromebooks is logged. If a student searches for a term that is either sexually explicit or associated with harm or violence (to themselves or others), it will be flagged.
Here are the materials and a video recording of the event:
Attached are slides and a curated resource list from the event and available online
Tech Support is available via email at or new via phone at 510-200-8648
Below are tips from PUSD parents who work in the online safety and security space on how to approach digital citizenship with children.
1. Talk with your kids about their favorite games or apps often.
If there is one thing you do, safety experts recommend parents have an open, ongoing discussion about what their kids are playing and doing online. This is easier said than done – but one step is to ask your child to show you their favorite game or app once a week. It can be as quick as 2-3 minutes – but it will give you enough information to have an ongoing discussion about it over the next few days. Doing and talking about this on an ongoing basis might help naturally bring up online safety issues as they happen. Things to consider:
(a) They are the expert – and this is an area where they might know more than you. They might really enjoy teaching their parents and letting them be the expert might make the overall experience more fun. You only need a few minutes to get the vibe of what’s going on. Try to make it a fun and positive experience – you don’t need to talk about the safety stuff while they are showing you the game. Just use the time to be impressed with their skills and learn about how the game works
(b) In addition to letting them show off their skills, some areas to learn about while looking at the app or game are:
(i) Does it have in-person chat or messages features?
(ii) Can people send and accept friend requests?
(iii) Is it possible for them to play or speak with people they don’t know?
(iv) If your child is interacting with other people, what personally identifiable information is available for others to see about your child? (i.e. name, address, age, etc.)
(v) Can they upload a photo/video of themselves or receive a photo/video of someone else?
(vi) How violent is the game and is the violence realistic?
(vii) Do they have fun while playing it? Or is it making them angry/annoyed?
Once you know more about the games, do you want to raise any specific safety concerns or change some of the privacy settings?
Other related tips:
(a) - Consider where your child is working. The main goal of their location is for them to know a supervising adult is nearby and available if they need help and that the adult might check on them. If your child is online and not in a synchronous class, consider the following:
(i) Public spaces (not bedroom) preferred
(ii) Have screen facing out so that an adult can see what the child is doing
(iii) Have child in listening distance
(iv) Do a quick check-in on your child just so they know you are there and watching
(b) - Keep devices outside of bedrooms overnight.
2. Have a family discussion about online safety and establish a family online safety agreement
Safety experts also recommend setting aside time as a family to have a discussion about technology use and online safety. Some families start out with an online safety agreement (examples below) and then talk through different scenarios, establish expectations and then customize the agreements to document the discussion. Here are a couple of online safety contracts to use and customize for what works for your family: American Academy of Pediatrics Agreement, Family Online Safety Institute Agreement or Common Sense Media Agreement.
3. Consider utilizing parental controls (i.e. device and computer monitoring)
Parental control software allows parents to keep tabs on their child’s online activity. Safety experts recommend this as a supplemental way to openly keep-an-eye on what websites your child is viewing and how much time they are spending on their devices when you are not there. Typically these are most effective when viewed as additional support and after there has been a family discussion about online safety and behavior. It’s also helpful to be transparent with your child about the software and to follow-up with questions about what they are viewing and how much time they are online.
For Chromebooks utilizing a PUSD email and/or a chromebook issued by PUSD:
PUSD is piloting the GoGuardian Parent App, and has provided access to parents. The GoGuardian Parent App is an application that shares the websites, documents and apps your child is accessing while logged into a PUSD-issued computer or while logged into a PUSD account when a child is using their own Chromebook. The application also gives parents the option to filter specific websites and pause internet access (either scheduled or on-demand) outside of school hours.
Note: for children who are not using a Chromebook but are logged into a PUSD account through Chrome, it is not yet known whether the GoGuardian Parent App will work.
If you would like to use the GoGuardian Parent App, please email your school’s tech team: email@example.com.
For devices not issued by PUSD and/or when your child is not logged into PUSD:
A good place to start when thinking about parental controls is to think about your family’s needs. Common Sense Media wrote this article that outlines the different types of blocking needs and products available.
Once you have determined your needs and potential software, here are additional reviews on parental control software: PC Mag 2021 Recommendations, Consumers Advocate 2021, New York Times (2019 but still relevant).
Note: some software might not be compatible with PUSD-issued computers. For questions, please reach out to your school’s tech team: firstname.lastname@example.org.
There is no single place to get information about online safety – however it can help to look at a few resources together.
Connect Safely Parent Guides - provides guidebooks that give an overview of apps, services and platforms popular with kids and teens.
Family Online Safety Institute Digital Parenting Tips - provides guidance of approaching digital citizenship and online safety discussions with children.
Google’s Be Internet Awesome Guide and Game - provides tools and resources for families to discuss internet resources at home. There is an online guide that outline potential scenarios for parents and children to walk through; there is also a video game called “Interland” where children practice responding to potential online safety concerns.
Common Sense Media - think of them as the Yelp for movies and games. It’s a helpful resource to get a quick read on a game or movie – however note that a lot of the content is user-generated (vs research based). The content is typically more focused on specific media reviews vs guidance on online safety education holistically.
Net Family News - this website provides the latest academic research involving children and online safety.
These organizations provide in-person trainings:
DigitalTAT2: research-based organization that provides different training options to parents, educators and children on building healthy habits, critical thinking, and thoughtful online behavior. They are leaders in knowing the latest trends in teen digital use.
Kidpower: provides different training options to parents and children to help children build skills that lead to healthy relationships and prevent harm. While not always online specific, their training can be applied to the online world.
1. Any game or app that has in-person chat/messages and/or the ability to accept/send friend requests. There are a few things that would be helpful to happen before allowing a child to use those features, such as:
(a) Digital citizenship training using any of the recommended resources above. These courses will share what is and is not appropriate to post online, how to get help if something inappropriate happens online and how to support others when something inappropriate happens to them.
(b) A family discussion about expected online behaviors and creating an online safety agreement.
(c) A trial period where you are able to monitor their online activity/chats for a certain time period and can see that they are able to do the things you established together.
2. Encourage your child to always come to you when something scary happens online - even if they have done something “wrong.” It can help to have this discussion when creating a family online safety agreement.
3. Assume any app or game is not investing in online safety or moderating content. Most gaming, video chat and social media companies do not have the resources to invest in online safety. They also need to prioritize the in-game or in-app experience first (before online safety for example) in order to drive a lot of new users (which means earning revenue). This might mean that privacy settings will be, by default, more open to allow for more “socializing” between users and drive more user growth. While some gaming and social media companies will attempt to moderate this content – it is not possible for them to moderate everything (plus you may not agree with their moderating decisions).
4. Criminal activity: Criminal activity can occur on social media, video chat and gaming platforms and is unfortunately more common than one might think. These incidents can happen between people who know each other in real-life - or people who meet online. It’s not uncommon for people to create fake profiles and pretend to be someone they are not. Continuing to reinforce the importance of critical thinking (is that person who they say they are?) and remind your child that you will always be there to help support them if something scary or uncomfortable happens to them or a friend - will help create a strong foundation for them. Familiarizing yourself with the types of online criminal activity can help you better understand the potential risks as well as provide support to someone who has been impacted by an internet crime. If more people know about potential internet crimes, the more we can all work together to prevent them. Please note, the following information is disturbing: