Teachers get 'appening

Instructors go online to keep tabs on kids

By Jhinuk Mazumdar in Calcutta
  • Published 7.01.18

Calcutta: School teachers and principals are downloading the latest apps and games like Clash of Clans and Gangsters and subscribing to trending channels online for a peek into their students' world.

Don't tell a child that a particular social networking site is not safe, rather tell her how to be safe online - such is the advice from cyber security experts.

Teachers need to overcome the "technological gap" with students and empower themselves, especially at a time when cyber crimes are on the rise and adolescents are the most vulnerable targets. If elders - teachers or parents - are technologically unsound, teens and adolescents are likely to take advantage of their shortcoming and hoodwink them, cyber security experts said.

Most students own smartphones and are glued to the screen, constantly checking social networking sites or tuning in to latest shows. Banning the use of devices is useless, experts say, as most children will not comply.

Heads of schools and teachers are spending hours surfing the Net or watching movie and television sites to keep themselves updated.

"As teachers, we have to keep ourselves abreast of what our students do. Smartphones have become their 24x7 companions," said Seema Sapru, the principal of The Heritage School.

The popularity of the Blue Whale challenge and the death of a boy in Mumbai prompted teachers to keep tabs on all that is happening online, with special focus on games that may spur violence in kids. The idea is that teachers inhabit the same virtual world as students.

"Students are into hacking sites and accounts and they think it is cool. It's important for teachers to be empowered in a digital era, especially when it comes to the Internet and the mobile. For teachers to mentor students, they need to know what the kid is doing and how," said Rakshit Tandon, a cyber security expert from Delhi who conducted a series of sessions with teachers in the city.

A match of football is no longer enough to bond with a student. Earlier, it was reading Enid Blyton, Asterix or Tintin to understand the child's world but now the medium has changed.

"To catch the pulse of the child, we have to know the world they are inhabiting online and the things that they are doing. To vibe with them, we have to be on the same level with them or else there is likely to be a disconnect," said John Bagul, the principal of South City International School.