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How #Default2Safety is Helping Keep Students Safe on Technology

#Default2Safety may seem like a normal hashtag to many, but it’s what lead to a revelation of a large tech company to take a deeper look into how technology can be reformed to keep students safe.

With technology being a main staple not only in our homes, but now in our student’s education, there have been many questions and concerns. One of our partners, NCOSE, took the challenge head on to fight for change and safety for all students. Google devices, Chromebooks are used by majority of school districts in America (40+ million students), including the Greater Houston Area. As of September 1st, they will be implementing several of the suggestions made by NCOSE for making Chromebooks and google education safer for students. The original article can be read here. Below is a breakdown of the new implemented safety settings.

The safety settings will automatically be defaulted on all products for K-12 students (under the age of 18) that can only be changed by those who hold administrative privileges. Administrators will also be given the ability to tailor settings for services such as maps, photos, and YouTube based on the age group at that campus.

  • SafeSearch: ON
    • SafeSearch when on, is used to filter out explicit content (images, videos, websites) that may pop up when using Google Search results.
  • Enable Guest Browsing: OFF
    • Guest Browsing when on, is a mode that allows all browsing activity to go undetected as well as be deleted when guest mode is exited.
  • Incognito Mode: OFF
    • Incognito mode is a private browser that keeps other people who use the device from seeing the history. Chrome will not save the history, information entered, or filed that were downloaded while using the private browser.
  • SafeSites: ON
    • SafeSites also called Safe Browsing, will alert you about malware, risky extensions, phishing or sites on Google’s list of potentially unsafe sites. It will also warn you if a downloaded file may be dangerous, giving the option for Google to scan it.

So, what do these changes mean and how great will the impact be?

First and foremost, this will help to considerably cut down on purposeful exposure to explicit content as well as predatory language through school-issued Chromebooks while being used at home and school. This is also beneficial to educators and administrators who are unable to consistently monitor the devices safety settings, as well as ease parent’s minds that they are being protected while at school. Though these safety settings aren’t 100% going to catch everything, consider checking browser history frequently and talk to students about safe sites that are able to access and what to do in the event of explicit content and sites they may come across.

This wouldn’t have been possible without NCOSE, Protect Young Eyes and many other organizations that played a part in this long 10-year battle through public campaigns and legislation. Thanks to organizations who continuously put in the work to make student and public safety a priority!

Posted by Crime Stoppers of Houston Assistant Programs Manager Kaitlynn Frey on 31 Aug 2021