Who knew that the schools that used to previously warn students against the harm the internet could cause if used incorrectly would one day have to rely on the same platform to educate students?
The education sector saw a land sliding change in the method of imparting knowledge to students across the globe; a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic that had its adverse consequences. Apart from the network connectivity issues, the lack of face-to-face and personal connection between the teachers and students, the evil of cyber threats too plagued and continue to plague the online education system across boundaries.
Multiple instances have surfaced where the students’ safety had had to be compromised to meet the technical requirements, female students were vulnerable to harassment, videos and pictures were recorded during the classes/examinations without the consent of the students, cases of bullying too have risen. Not just this, but leaving the devices in young student’s hands without proper monitoring has also made accessing pornographic content easier than ever.
Since classroom teaching came to a halt, teachers had to undertake some new ways of teaching students. The one most common way was sharing YouTube links to explain various academic topics and concepts. This exposed students to a variety of adult content, most of which wasn’t appropriate for their viewing.
Further, the use of video conferencing applications, especially Zoom saw suspicious uninvited guests hijack the video calls causing a severe threat to the online safety of students. These uninvited guests could be anyone with immoral intentions of either hacking systems or accessing personal details.
All these and many more similar cyber threats can have a far-fetched impact on the students and also hamper their learning process. To counter these cyber threats and make the internet a safe platform for students to carry out their education, governments across the world have taken safety measures. India too has taken the necessary steps to ensure the same safety to its students.
Under the stewardship of Union Minister for HRD Shri Ramesh Pokhriyal, The National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) along with the UNESCO New Delhi Office drafted a booklet titled ‘Safe Online Learning In Times Of Covid-19’ that helps the students and teachers to conducts themselves correctly on the internet while receiving and imparting education.
If acted responsibly, you can easily keep online abuse and cyberbullying far from coming your way. The booklet mentions certain dos and don’ts to make the internet a safe platform for yourself.
Inculcating online/internet ethics
Before you point a finger at someone for doing something wrong or unethical, you must first understand your responsibility too towards your teachers and classmates. Don’t engage in an activity that you wouldn’t like anyone else to do. Teachers and victims of cyberbullying have been found complaining about students taking screenshots of the screen and sharing them across various platforms by making fun of those visible in the picture. This is absolutely unacceptable and everyone should refrain from doing this.
Make sure you enter the correct details while logging into any application. Disclose your personal or any kind of information only when asked by the appropriate faculty. Do not use fake or someone else’s name. Don’t share your login details with anyone and that can amount to anyone misusing it.
You must know what is ethically correct and incorrect when using any platform, especially the internet; a platform that is extremely diverse with a presence of all kinds of people.
Ensure open space for discussion
If you find anything suspicious during the classes, receive notifications of someone trying to sign in using your email address or login details, bring it to the attention of the concerned authorities like the teachers and even your parents immediately. If you receive any threats, abuses, or obscene content, don’t hesitate to talk to your elders. They exist to help you get out of it.
Don’t respond to cyber threats or cyberbullying by counter-attacking
It is natural to either freak out or get furious when subjected to cyberbullying and counterattack in the heat of the moment, but it is definitely not a smart thing to do. If it happens once and is trivial, the best thing to do is ignore or block the user. If it keeps happening more than once and is outrageous and immoral, you must directly report it to the teachers and let the authorities take the necessary action. Make sure you bring it to the notice of your parents so that they can protect you better.
Know how to use the application/software you are using
While these are just a few things that will help you stay safe, there are a lot many that you must keep in mind to have a good online learning experience. The booklet developed by NCERT and UNESCO will better help you in understanding that. Given below is the pdf format of the booklet.