Amid the Covid-19 pandemic, there's one thing we can all be certain of and that is that there is near-unanimous uncertainty about when life will truly return to normality. This is why schools have made a huge effort in terms of homeschooling for students across the world.

It’s tough but necessary for parents and children alike and the last thing both needs is malware and spam sliding into computers, freezing files, stealing personal info, or slowing them down to a crawl. And it’s also tough for schools. It’s not in their mandate to be IT experts. So how can you get the best out of homeschooling without compromising security and without burning out too?

Check these top tips to keep the kids on the cyber straight and narrow.

Set a routine and limit screen time

We're all living in a cloud of uncertainty and what we thought were structured routines have pretty much dissolved leaving us to nail down our routines. Older teens will figure out what they need to do and when and will check in with friends to see how they are managing their school work which usually galvanizes them into action too. It's the younger kids who need help so it's a good idea to set aside fixed hours each day for homeschooling.

But whether a growing teen or younger child, both will gravitate to online gaming and social media in their spare time to keep up with their buddies. Nobody wants to spend every waking minute in front of a screen or see their kids do the same so it’s important to set ground rules that limit the time they’re allowed in front of a screen.

Set small specific goals

It's worth researching what the right amount of time your children should be studying for a day. One or two hours might be enough depending on their age and what they are expected to do. Keeping expectations reasonable will make it easy for all involved.

Let kids make some choices

Giving children the ability to choose some of their own activities will engage them. They are likely to have several choices but if there are some subjects they swerve away from sitting down with them and helping them navigate through the work will foster receptivity.

Parental controls

It's a given that the kids will do their own thing online when not homeschooling which can at the very least create niggling parental anxieties. So why not protect them from a digital distance? Parental controls are a discreet and healthy way of ensuring children don’t get sucked into the dark side of the internet whether its websites with inappropriate content or malware, bullying and abuse, and the ever-present stranger danger.

Good parental controls will allow you to block websites you deem unsuitable, stop applications you specify from loading, and issue alerts when private information, defined by you, such as phone numbers, address, email details, credit card number, and so on appear on the child's computer.

The magic of a VPN

We’ll take it as a given that you’re running antivirus software on your computers after all without it you’re vulnerable to a host of dangerous malware threats that are too numerous to count. You can take your online security, and that of the kids, to the next level with a VPN (virtual private network).

A VPN creates a private tunnel between your computer and the websites and online services you access. The data that travels through the tunnel is also encrypted so all your online activities are private and secure against both snoopers and hackers. It also keeps the kids safe when they log onto online learning materials. And if you're working from home it's also invaluable in protecting sensitive company data.

School’s out, are teachers safe?

Most teachers are working from home on a variety of computers; aging desktops, laptops running different operating systems, and the occasional tablet here and there.

What is an administrator to do? Few could have anticipated a near-global shut down impacting on their school. Video conferencing apps like Zoom have become the new norm, remote learning is the order of the day, and teachers are most likely exposed to a Covid-19 malware epidemic that is riding on the tailcoat of the real thing.

It’s a difficult and trying situation for those charged with keeping the network and its users safe. However, it can be managed with the right tools.
  • Installing a VPN is the first step to protecting teachers and the school network. But the array of end devices that teachers are likely using also needs to be protected against all forms of malware, some of which can be used to connect to video conferencing apps. This is of particular importance given that video conferencing is now so widespread.
  • Normally this level of protection for individuals could be difficult. It requires either time consuming individual management for each device or the use of protection designed for enterprises but scaled down to meet smaller organizations, which tends to be inordinately complex.
  • BullGuard Small Office Security, however, provides an answer. All devices are centrally managed from a cloud-based portal and because it is designed specifically for small businesses, management is simple and straightforward; it is deployed and managed remotely.
Because these are exceptional times BullGuard is offering a free minimum 3-month BullGuard Small Office Security license for schools, and businesses, that need help in managing endpoint cyber-security.
  • FREE licenses are available that protect up to 50 Widows, Mac, and Android devices.
  • There are no financial obligations, no commitments of any sort, and businesses don't need to submit any payment information to obtain their 3-month license.
BullGuard Small Office Security protects all computing devices from desktop PCs to smartphones, laptops, and tablets safeguarding against all types of malware, including ransomware and phishing emails, thanks to its multi-layered and multi-award-winning protection. Video conferencing apps like Zoom are also protected from malware that hijacks connections.

For both students and teachers, these tips and technologies for secure home working will help keep homeschooling smooth.