Cyber security poses threat to East Tennessee virtual schools

Virtual students may face invisible problems this year, but the threat will still be real.
Published: Sep. 10, 2020 at 11:30 PM EDT
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JACKSBORO, Tenn. (WVLT) - Virtual students may face invisible problems this year, but the threat will still be real.

“As a parent, you’re always going to worry,” said Jennifer Pinkston.

Keeping track of four girls learning from home can pose challenges for Pinkston.

“You can’t be there for every single minute over their shoulder and monitoring every single second," explained Pinkston.

More than a third of students between 12 and 17 years old have been cyberbullied, according to cyber security expert Kierk Sanderlin.

“We do expect to see an increase in cyberbullying this year because there’s more students who will be online learning rather than in-person," said Sanderlin.

Parents can be keep watch of behavior changes in students such as if they suddenly aren’t interested in learning virtually or become not focused. Those are a couple warning signs that they could be facing cyberbullies.

But cyber security expanded beyond cyberbullying. Being mindful of valuable information that may be in the background of your students camera while online learning is vital.

“It’s important to understand what view that camera has just for your own safety and security," said Sanderlin.

Make sure credit cards, checkbooks, and social security or other forms of personal information aren’t in the background.

Turn off the camera and microphone when they aren’t being used.

“Cyber-hygiene is more important for these kids now than ever," said Sanderlin.

Pinkston and her husband take a proactive approach to explain how to be respectful to other students and vigilant there could be predators.

“I am confident that I have taught them the safe things to do on the Internet," said Pinkston.

She said she was also grateful her students have a class about tech safety to help enforce what she and her husband tell them.

Teachers can do their part by making sure every virtual lesson has a password and waiting room so only students in the class can be admitted.

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