There are two sides of the coin when it comes to mobile devices and safety. On the one hand, they provide a sense of safety through the ability to communicate and contact others in emergency situations. On the other hand, digital devices have the potential to pose significant risks when it comes to cybersecurity. This is very much true for students and young people growing up in the age of social media and mobile technology, in which our usage far exceeds general awareness of the risks. 

October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month. This year’s campaign highlights three key steps all of us within the school community can take to be more digitally secure:

1. Own it. The culmination of small, personal details publicly shared can make you vulnerable to security risks. Posting about things such as where you go to school, where you live, who your friends are, and locations you frequent all add up to provide criminals with information that can unknowingly jeopardize your safety. Err on the side of caution when it comes to sharing your life with the world, considering how much access the public has to you through your digital profile. 

Mobile devices are with us practically everywhere we go, including places like school. As such, it is essential to have a deep understanding of the devices you are carrying with you, and the information they obtain from your usage, such as your location. Know what you are putting out there and think critically when it comes to considering what your device knows about you.  

Tech Tip #1: Own your technology usage, rather than letting it own you. Not only is a digital break a healthy thing to have every once in a while; leaving your phone at home could also limit the information that is being gathered about you through your usage. 

2. Secure it.  What does your digital device know about you?  Be aware of what information is being garnered through your digital presence even when you are not posting. Whether it be your Facebook sharing settings or location-tracking mechanisms embedded in sites such as Google, think critically and consciously about what is being shared automatically, and take steps to limit outside access to that information.  Oftentimes, we grant our devices permission to access our information without even realizing it. But we can take our power back, right here, right now! Turn off location tracking. Make sure your posts don’t get switched to a “public” setting inadvertently. Perhaps even flip your phone into airplane mode when you toss it in your bag so you can have a truly private outing, and still have communication when you need it. 

Do you know what security features are available on your device? If not, explore! Implementing these tools, such as the option for multi-factor authentication for logging into certain platforms, can be a great step towards protecting yourself from things like cybercrime.

Tech Tip #2:  Make sure your passwords are strong. Add a creative mix of letters, numbers and characters. Avoid using the same passwords on multiple sites, especially when it comes to accounts with high-stakes information such as banking and other secure records. 

Tech Tip #3: Use multi-factor authentication when possible. By adding another layer to the log-in process to confirm your identity, multi-factor authentication reduces the risk of being hacked and/or having private information stolen. 

3. Protect it. There are many factors that go into digital security — or digital insecurity. Implementing security measures is one thing, but staying on top of your safety, or keeping an eye on your “digital hygiene,” is another. Stay aware of what you are putting out there, and the “digital trail” you are leaving behind through every action you take online. 

Tech Tip #4: Reflect on your technology usage. What information do you give away by means of posting? What does your device know about you? What kind of digital trail are you leaving? Pretend for a minute that you are a stranger attempting to gain access to you. How easy would it be to access details into your personal life and/or private information? What step can you take today to increase your security? 

This National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, be proactive! By working on your “digital hygiene,” you not only have the opportunity to become more safe and secure, but to take the reigns of your digital life back, and empower yourself and your friends in the process. 


Every October, Bullying Prevention Month shines a spotlight on the issue of bullying, but it’s important to remember that bullying is a year-round problem that should be addressed throughout the year in schools and at home.

If you’re not addressing this issue as a parent at home, you run the risk of raising a victim or a bully. Have frank conversations with your children before bullying begins so they know why it’s wrong, the impact it can have on others, and how to handle it if a bully decides to pick on them. So this October, take some time to discuss bullying, but remember it’s a wide-spread problem every month of the year.

The Odds

Just in grades 6 to 12, approximately one-quarter of all kids will be the victims of bullying. And for those parents who think their kids will never be a bully, consider this: Around 30 percent of children have owned up to the fact that they have bullied other children.

Factors That Increase a Child’s Odds of Being a Bully

  • Having trouble following rules
  • Having problems at home
  • Being unpopular
  • Being a well-connected, advantaged child with a sense of entitlement
  • Seeing violence as a positive, or normal, thing
  • Being friends with bullies
  • Feeling the need to fit in

Factors That Make a Child More Likely to be Bullied

  • Children who are quiet
  • Being perceived as different
  • Children who are depressed or anxious
  • Children who aren’t as popular as their classmates
  • Smart kids who do well in school, which can trigger jealousy in bullies who aren’t doing well
  • Being considered annoying or antagonizing by classmates

What Kinds of Bullying Are There?

Bullying might be different from what you remember from your childhood. Sure, there are still playground bullies out there, but it has gotten more sophisticated and often sneakier. Let’s go over the various types you should discuss with your child so they have a clear idea of what bullying is.

  • Physical bullying: This is the classic bullying many people think of, involving physical force like hitting, kicking, and tripping.
  • Verbal bullying: This involves saying mean things to the person being bullied. It could be about their appearance, their family members, their socioeconomic status, disability, or ethnicity.
  • Relational bullying: This is when kids tell other kids to ignore another child. It prevents the victim from having relationships with others, further isolating them.
  • Damage to property: If your child brings a phone to school, the bully might smash it to upset them. Or the bully could steal their belongings instead of breaking them.
  • Cyberbullying: Threats and harassment can be sent through phones, email, social media, and other online sites. Unlike other forms of bullying, there is no break from this kind – it can happen at any point during the day, not just when your child is at school. 

How to Prevent Bullying

There’s no surefire way to stop a bully, but you can cut down on the chances of your child being the victim or turning into a bully by:

  • Talking: Discuss bullying with your child. Tell them what bullies do and how it makes other kids feel. Tell them they can always come to you if they have any problem.
  • Show what true friendship is: You can do this by having healthy relationships in your own life and by letting your child see that. Don’t belittle or gossip about your friends behind their backs, and your child will learn how to properly treat a friend.
  • Address inappropriate behavior: If you are aware or suspect bullying on your child’s part, address it. They need to know they have boundaries.
  • Instill a sense of confidence: Find activities your children enjoy and excel at so they have a healthy sense of self.
  • Teach them to rise above: Walking away or telling a bully to stop sometimes nips the problem in the bud.
  • Report it:If your child is being bullied, report it to the school. Keep persisting until your child is protected

Keep Communication Open

The number one thing you can do is always let your child know you are there for them no matter what. Tell them they shouldn’t be ashamed or embarrassed to tell you anything.

If you want, share stories of problems you had with bullies when you were younger. Or if you were the bully, tell them why you did it and why you regret it. With enough attention and motivation, parents have the power to stomp out bullying from our schools and our children’s lives.

About the Author

Jenny Silverstone is the mother of two, a writer, and an editor for the parenting blog Mom Loves Best. Jenny is passionate about using her platform to spread awareness and help stomp out bullying in our schools and communities.

Editor’s Note

This blog contains views, and positions of the author, and does not represent Safe and Sound Schools. Information provided in this blog is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Safe and Sound Schools accepts no liability for any omissions, errors, or representations. The copyright to this content belongs to the author and any liability with regards to infringement of intellectual property rights remains with them.