How teachers can protect students online

Nov 14, 2017 by

One of the sharpest double-edged swords on the education market for Instructors recently is student use of the internet.

The internet creates an environment for students to submit an assignment, complete tests, and study while working on their personal phones, tablets, and PCs.

As you can imagine, the results of having infinite potential for learning resources available at the fingertips of a new generation has many schools and education departments looking into the benefits of online, or E-learning. But as this movement has passed through the brave pioneering educators and is now a common classroom reality, there are some dangers to making use of online resources that need to be addressed.

What dangers are out there?

There are many concerns over the safety of allowing students—of any age online. The easiest threat being the potential to stumble across adult R-rated content thanks to an unblocked pop-up advertisement, or the accidental misspelling of a website that leads the students straight into the front page of an adult video site. Even worse, is the possibility of teenaged students purposely going to these sites ono school sanctioned computers or tablets, accidentally downloading and spreading online corruptive viruses into the institution’s systems.

Secondly, the darker and more looming threat for young students is the possibility of being ‘cat-fished’ and falling under the influences of sexual predators who lie about their age, gender, or whereabouts in order to befriend and influence the children over social medias.

And the largest threat, the one most overlooked in these cases, is the dangers that these students may pose to each other through cyberbullying. In the last decade, there have been hundreds of suicides and self-harm cases brought to light over cyberbullying, most commonly in teenage girls, and the exposure to social media outlets like Instagram only exacerbates the problems. As these children prey upon each other’s insecurities relentlessly, and the impressionably youth often have no one to turn to until it’s too late. With films like Netflix’s recent “13 Reasons Why” only causing the suicide rates from cyberbullying to triple in the last year, educators must be aware of these potential problems when setting up online regulated coursework in class.

What can be done?

Digital Footprint

The first step that must be explained to students when signing up for any form of an e-learning program is what their Digital Foot Print is and how it can affect them and the students around them. In short, a digital footprint is the history and data left in a computer to show what sites the user has visited, personal data, and traceable digital trail of the user. Therefore, the user can be traced, hacked, or scammed with their personal online footprint. Because of this, it is vital that students are aware of the  dangers of online hacking and internet use. It is also important for instructors to establish some form of guidelines for students to follow when online and making use of social media and the internet for assignments or play.


The next step is to protecting students is to make sure that when students are online, they are connected to a VPN, or Virtual Private Network.  This will allow them to stay anonymous online and will protect both their and the school’s identity and location while online. A VPN establishes a separate and private connection to the internet that is secure and anonymous for the user, and therefore protects from cyber-attacks and other scam or pop-up trackers online.

A key benefit in VPN use for schools and educational institutions is that older or more tech savvy students can use of a VPN during the planning, storing, and taking of a test. By using a VPN, no low-level tech student could hack into or access the answers and without authorization from the instructor, helping to prevent cheating across many platforms and ensuring that the students get the deserved scores.

Software Installations

Updating Software

The last step is comprised of 2 parts:

  1. The first, making sure that all the students’ applications on their devices are up-to-date, due to the potential security risks older software often poses—as outdated and potentially breached coding, on their devices and the school’s or institute of education’s network. If you choose to make use of older software, these devices are more susceptible to hackers and another digital attacks, which may cripple and corrupt the entire e-learning program or turn student owned devices unusable.

A Strong Password

  1. The last part of software instalation is to make sure that every single password on the device, whether belonging to a student or instructor, is a ‘strong password’, to helps protect your device and accounts from being hacked as well as your information from being stolen.

A tip to finding a strong password is to make use of a phrase instead of a single word, for example,


Choosing to replace letters with numbers or phonetic sounds helps to make the password stronger.

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