Are you at risk of Zoombombing? How to ensure safe online learning when using Zoom

The COVID-19 crisis has seen a rise in video conferencing platforms. Sites like Zoom are now common place for those looking to adopt remote learning opportunities for students, meaning the importance of online safety has never been as prevalent.

The danger of Zoombombing

Whilst video conferencing is proving a positive way to remain connected with a classroom, there are safeguarding considerations that must be set in place. Children are increasingly at risk of being exposed to harmful online content. As such it is the responsibility of schools to ensure those using conferencing platforms such as Zoom, are implementing the appropriate guidance to ensure harmful online behaviour is removed.

Safer use of Zoom

From April 5th 2020, Zoom has forced its users to password protect meeting rooms. This is an important first step, however, there are other actions that can be taken to protect your Zoom space. These include:

  • Teachers and students should always use a new meeting room each time they create a call on Zoom. This means that you should not use a personal meeting ID
  • Ensure that students do not join the call before the host
  • All attendees should be muted on joining the call
  • Screen sharing should be turned off throughout the duration of the call
  • Set up a ‘waiting room’ for student members to join
  • Lock your meeting room after you have started the conference so that people cannot join uninvited
  • Don’t publicise your meeting link on social media or any other public domain, such as your website
  • Don’t share a screenshot of the Zoom call publicly – especially when it shows the meeting ID or images of children
  • For each call, identify an adult that can ‘manage the room’ and ensure that they have cross-checked the above steps
  • Notify attendees of a Plan B should a call have to be aborted at short notice

In addition to the above, it is important to remind users to avoid sharing any personal information on Zoom calls, and that video and microphone functions are turned off unless required.

Keeping children safe online 

Now more than ever children and young people are at risk of online dangers. There are a number of measures to help keep children safe when using online devices and apps. Teachers should encourage parents to:

  • Have open and honest conversations around online safety
  • Regularly check who children are communicating with online and that requests from strangers are always declined
  • Warn children of online dangers, and to be cautious about trusting online users, even if they think that they are talking to somebody they know in the real world
  • Ensure children are using ‘lock’ features and relevant privacy settings on devices and applications
  • Parents should speak to their children about what constitutes ‘personal information’ to ensure they do not disclose anything to anyone during a live stream
  • Be present – if a child is going to conduct a live stream, parents should ask them if they could be present for it, to help them understand how their child is using the app

To access resources on how to support parents in protecting young people from online dangers when at home, please visit our Here for You webpage, where you can download a free digital safety pack.

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