During this pandemic, everyone is thankful for the ability to use technology to connect. I know I am! Last week I “zoomed” all my best friends at once and then used a Zoom call to see my church service. My sister is using it for school, my mom for work, and I even have a virtual doctor's appointment scheduled! (No waiting room, yay!) If we didn’t have this technology we would be disconnected and more alone than we already are! I'm thankful we can still keep on with our lives via all that awesome tech.
However, as the world turned to Zoom to go on with daily life--predators turned to Zoom to cause havoc and make illicit money. And unfortunately, children and minors are the easy targets. This is happening because Zoom isn't a very secure platform.
“Child profiteering” is one of the biggest issues of our age, and even during a global pandemic, traffickers and exploiters are not using their quarantine time productively. They have found new and highly effective ways to reach minors with their disgusting messages. Scary!
With all of our children on Zoom calls for school, lessons, and checking in with grandparents and friends, this means millions of people are using the Zoom app every single day, often unsupervised.
“Zoombombing” is the term used when a zoom call is hacked and the invader can send nude pictures or pornography (or any other exploitation methods) to your conference call. As of right now, the only way to “securely” use Zoom is with a number ID. But this one step prevention technique isn’t stopping people from hacking your private conversations. Thankfully the FBI is investigating, and the Zoom company says that new security measures are on the way. Zoom is stoping all other projects and focusing solely on the issue of new software measures for securer conferencing! Yay!
But in the meantime, here are 3 ways to make sure your child is safe during a Zoom meeting.
When possible, always supervise the screen. It can be easy to cook and do chores, or even “veg-out” on our phone while your child is in school or talking to friends. But staying aware and paying attention is highly effective, even if it is inconvenient. This method can’t stop someone from hacking, but it can give you the power to end the call immediately and have a conversation with your child. Often these “zoombombers” hack into a call when a child is alone and unsupervised, which results in parents not knowing that their child was exposed. Children need to receive proper instructions on what they have seen or heard and they can’t do that if a parent isn’t there to direct. Also, make sure to talk with your child about strangers entering a call ad how they should respond.
Protect every conference call with a unique password. You can do this by clicking on the “require meeting password” button as you schedule your child’s meetings. If on a group call with a classroom, this can be harder to do and many teachers might not require it. Make sure you have discussed security concerns with those in charge. If the call is a personal group or a one-on-one call, the host (you) can require everyone entering the call to use a password that you have given them beforehand. Even though this is an extra inconvenient step, your child’s safety is worth it.
Disable the "screen sharing" for everyone in the call except you. This can keep an unwanted pop-up from happening.
Zoom also offers a “waiting room” where you can accept each person entering the call, which gives you control over the members joining. If you don't recognize a person, don't accept them. This feature is amazing!
Zoom is an incredible and much-needed tech these days. While hacking is a natural consequence you can protect your child and ensure a quality call if you pay attention and take the extra steps.