Security, Zoom and Children's Online Classes
Zoom, Skype, FaceTime, Microsoft Teams and Google Hangouts have become the normal way to hold meetings and classes now. All these platforms have inherent risks, especially for our children. While this article focuses on Zoom, many of the general recommendations would apply to any of the platforms.
Not all children will have the luxury of space and privacy at home. They may not have the space to move away from a family argument or family members behaving inappropriately in the background of the call. From a security point of view they should be advised not to share unnecessary information about their personal space, such as books, posters, windows or any other details that give off information about their preferences, habits or the location of their home.
In Ireland 16 is the age of digital consent. Children under 16 should not be asked to sign up for their own Zoom accounts.
- Keep your links private. A public meeting link is public so do not share it with anyone you do not trust. Be aware that the participants can also share the link. If you need to share the link on a public forum, send the meeting password separately by DM.
- Don’t use your Personal Meeting ID. This is like a personal room that people can “drop in” on at any time. Make sure to set up a password for participants to verify their entry before accessing the Zoom meeting.
- Turn off Screen Sharing. When you are in the meeting, you will need to manage screen sharing by ensuring you are the only person in control of the meeting. To do this, click on “Who Can Share?” and confirm that “Host” is the only button clicked.
- Approved list of participants. Ensure only approved participants can join the call. Cross-check against your class list for example.
- Lock the meeting. Once your class has started in the Participants pop-up, click the button that says Lock Meeting.
- Disable private chat. The in-meeting chat allows participants to message each other privately. Remove this option to prevent anyone getting unwanted messages and avoid distractions.
Recording Zoom Calls
- GDPR says you you must let your participants know beforehand that you will be recording and what the recordings will be used for. Tell them once again when class begins so that there is recorded evidence of you obtaining informed consent.
- Recordings should be stored on secure servers. Check your settings to see whether you are storing in the cloud with Zoom or locally on your computer. If you are storing recordings loc
- Records of ALL chats, including private ones, are saved as part of the recording.
- The free version of Zoom will not offer end to end encryption which prevents unauthorised parties eavesdropping on your call. This would be considered high risk, especially where children are involved and should be avoided.
- Your Zoom account should be protected with 2-factor authentication and a complex, unique password.
Information for Parents, Teens and Children using Zoom
- Make sure you and your child consider what background is visible when on Zoom so as the privacy of other family members and the security of the home is protected. For example, consider using a Zoom virtual background so family living areas and family members aren’t visible in the background.
- If your child is using Zoom to participate on classes with their teacher, you can expect that the teachers will have put in place precautions such as two-factor authentication with a meeting ID and user password and locking the session so that no new participants can join. If you have concerns, check in with the teacher to see if the session is password protected and the class secure.
- If your child or teen is using Zoom to chat/meet with friends, take the time to ensure that they understand how to use the App safely and that they are familiar with the security features.
- Remind your child, that as with any App or online facility, they shouldn’t be video chatting with strangers or people they don't know in person and that they should never join a meeting or accept a request from someone you don’t actually know. Also remind them that they should avoid saying or doing anything on video that they wouldn’t feel comfortable having shared outside the group.
- Explain in an age appropriate way what ‘Zoombombing’ is and instruct them to tell you or another trusted adult if something happens online that makes them feel scared or uncomfortable.
- As with any online activity, it’s important for parents to monitor their child’s video chats. That doesn’t mean hovering over their shoulder all day - but it does mean keeping an eye and an ear out at frequent intervals.