Schools have been told to assist parents in supervising children "at all times" when delivering remote learning on the video conferencing app Zoom.
The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) has listed Zoom as "medium risk" on its advice site Net Aware, created with O2, which offers guidance on the dangers associated with social networks, apps and games.
The site recommends teachers and parents supervise children using the app "at all times", and that video chats are kept "as secure as possible", to mitigate risks including "zoombombing" – when online trolls gain access to other people's conferences and share disturbing content, such as pornography.
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The NSPCC told Tes this means that, where possible, teachers should remain on the line with students throughout the call, and ensure all necessary safety features are in place to prevent unwanted intrusions.
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This could include turning off the screen-sharing feature and admitting students into the call one at a time.
The site has listed Zoom as "medium risk" across the board: for exposure to sexual content; violence and hatred; bullying suicide and self-harm; and drink, drugs and crime.
This makes it comparable to Google Hangouts, Skype and WhatsApp, but more dangerous than FaceTime.
The children's commissioner, Anne Longfield, previously issued guidance for teachers on what security settings are available on the app, and how best to use them.
She urged teachers to take the following advice:
- Lock your classroom
If your class has started and all your pupils have arrived, you can lock your virtual classroom, so that no one else can join.
- Use virtual waiting rooms
Use this feature to hold potential participants in a separate "waiting room", so you can check who they are before allowing them entry. There’s also a setting to allow known students to skip the waiting room, so you don’t have to manually allow 30 pupils every time.
- Limit screen sharing
Make sure your pupils don’t take control of the screen and prevent them from sharing random content by limiting screen sharing, so only you as the teacher (host) can present to the class.
- Disable private messaging
Prevent distractions among your class by stopping private messaging between pupils, so they can’t talk to one another without your knowledge.
Zoom has also issued its own advice on how "to ensure everyone joining an event does so with good intentions".
Its blog post includes the following tips:
- Allow only signed-in users to join
If someone tries to join your event and isn’t logged into Zoom with the email they were invited through, they will receive a message inviting them to either sign in or leave.
- Set up your own two-factor authentication
Generate a random meeting ID when scheduling your event and require a password to join.
- Remove unwanted or disruptive participants
From the participants menu, you can hover over a person's name, and several options will appear – including "remove".
- Disable video
Hosts can turn someone’s video off. This will allow you to block unwanted, distracting or inappropriate gestures on video.
- Put people on hold
You can put everyone else on hold, and the attendees’ video and audio connections will be disabled momentarily. Click on someone’s video thumbnail and select "start attendee on hold" to activate this feature. Click "take off hold" in the participants' list when you’re ready to have them back.
- Mute participants
Hosts can block unwanted, distracting or inappropriate noise from other participants by muting them. You can also enable "mute upon entry" in your settings.
- Turn off file transfer
In-meeting file transfer allows people to share files through the chat. Toggle this off to keep the chat from getting bombarded with unsolicited content.