Avoiding the digital age isn’t realistic – understanding the safety of children’s information online is therefore of paramount importance.
Update on July 15, 2014
In an effort to further educate both early years educators and parents on the important topic of cyber safety, we now have a page completely dedicated to Internet Safety. This page has further information on HiMama’s commitment to Internet Safety, a guide for parents using HiMama, as well as links to helpful resources from Australia, Canada, United Kingdom and United States.
This page is part of our ongoing commitment to Internet Safety. If you have any questions whatsoever about HiMama and Internet Safety, or if there is something you would like further clarification on or do not understand, please do not hesitate to contact us at any time.
For parents today, the safety and security of their children’s information should be of utmost concern. While there are numerous benefits for both parents and early years educators to documenting children’s information digitally and storing information in the cloud, for example, it is important to be educated on how this transition should be managed to protect children’s identities and keep them safe from predators.
In the context of early years education, the storage and sharing of digital information primarily relates to how children’s records, photos, and videos are communicated to parents. In a digital context, I have found early years programs traditionally provide this information through either publicly open websites or social media sites, or through a password-protected website or private social media network.
Whether through a website or social media, posting photos or videos on a publicly available site is of course the least safe approach. If using this approach in your early years programs, you should clearly communicate this in your policy and aim to educate your parents on what this means. Furthermore, you should be careful about what additional information is shared in photos or videos, such as a child’s name or their location.
Providing media to parents within a private social media network or through a password-protected portal is substantially safer. There are, however, challenges with this approach as well. If using a private network on social media, for example, you should be aware of the terms and policies that apply. For example, by using Facebook you implicitly grant Facebook a worldwide license to use any of the content you post.
With password-protected portals, you should be aware that parents can still download photos and post them on open social media networks. This can be a problem as parents often have access to photos not only of their own child, but of other children in the class whose parents may not be comfortable with their child’s photos appearing on social media. In this situation, educating parents on etiquette is important.
While there will always be concerns around cyber safety, simply ignoring online technology is also not a realistic expectation as today’s parents increasingly receive (and want to receive) information through digital channels. Therefore, it is necessary to educate yourself, your staff, and your parents on cyber safety so that all may benefit from available technologies while maintaining the right balance of privacy and security that your families require and your children deserve.
You can expect to see an increasing amount of educational information from HiMama on cyber safety as we strive to educate both early years educators and parents on this important topic.
Read more here to learn about how child care software engages families in a child’s learning and development while keeping their personal information secure to only their educator and parents/guardians.