5 Common Mistakes Students Make Online: How to Teach Digital Safety and Security

In today’s digital age, students spend a significant amount of their time online, which includes various activities like socializing, researching, learning, and playing games. While the internet provides endless opportunities, it also poses significant risks to students’ safety and security. Students, especially those in elementary and middle schools, are vulnerable to various online threats like cyberbullying, phishing, malware attacks, identity theft, and exposure to inappropriate content. Therefore, it is essential for educators and education professionals to teach digital safety and security to students. In this article, we will discuss five common mistakes students make online and provide tips on how to teach digital safety and security.

Mistake #1: Sharing Personal Information Online

One of the most common mistakes that students make online is sharing their personal information, such as their full name, address, phone number, and email address, on social media platforms, chat rooms, or forums. This puts them at risk of identity theft, cyberstalking, and other forms of online exploitation.

Tip: Teach students to protect their personal information

Educators should teach students to protect their personal information online by:

  • Avoiding sharing personal information on public platforms.
  • Using strong passwords and not sharing them with anyone.
  • Checking the privacy settings on their social media accounts and adjusting them to limit who can see their information.
  • Reporting any suspicious behavior or messages they receive to a trusted adult.

Mistake #2: Falling for Scams and Phishing Attacks

Students are vulnerable to scams and phishing attacks, which are designed to trick them into revealing sensitive information or downloading malicious software. These attacks often come in the form of emails, text messages, or pop-up ads.

Tip: Teach students to recognize scams and phishing attacks

Educators should teach students to recognize scams and phishing attacks by:

  • Not clicking on suspicious links or downloading unknown attachments.
  • Checking the sender’s email address or phone number to make sure it is legitimate.
  • Being cautious of emails or messages that ask for personal information, passwords, or financial information.
  • Reporting any suspicious emails or messages to a trusted adult.

Mistake #3: Engaging in Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying is a serious problem that affects many students, and it involves using technology to harass, embarrass, or intimidate others. Students who engage in cyberbullying may not realize the impact their actions can have on others.

Tip: Teach students to be kind online

Educators should teach students to be kind online by:

  • Treating others with respect and empathy.
  • Avoiding posting or sharing hurtful comments or images.
  • Reporting any incidents of cyberbullying to a trusted adult.
  • Encouraging others to speak out against cyberbullying and supporting those who are affected by it.

Mistake #4: Downloading Malicious Software

Students may unknowingly download malicious software, such as viruses, spyware, or ransomware, which can infect their devices and compromise their personal information.

Tip: Teach students to download from trusted sources

Educators should teach students to download from trusted sources by:

  • Only downloading software or apps from reputable sources like the App Store or Google Play.
  • Checking reviews and ratings before downloading anything.
  • Avoiding downloading from unknown websites or pop-up ads.
  • Installing antivirus software and keeping it up-to-date.

Mistake #5: Spending Too Much Time Online

Students may become addicted to spending time online, which can affect their mental and physical health. Excessive screen time can lead to sleep problems, eye strain, and poor posture.

Tip: Teach students to balance their online and offline activities

Educators should teach students to balance their online and offline activities by:

  • Setting time limits for online activities and encouraging students to take breaks.
  • Encouraging physical activity and other hobbies that don’t involve screens.
  • Promoting open communication with parents and caregivers about online habits and concerns.
  • Educating students about the negative effects of excessive screen time and the importance of self-care.


In conclusion, teaching digital safety and security is crucial for ensuring students’ well-being and success in today’s digital age. By educating students about common online mistakes and providing tips for staying safe online, educators can empower students to be responsible and informed digital citizens. The tips mentioned in this article, such as protecting personal information, recognizing scams and phishing attacks, being kind online, downloading from trusted sources, and balancing online and offline activities, can be used as a starting point for developing a comprehensive digital safety and security curriculum for students. As technology continues to evolve, it is essential for educators to stay informed and up-to-date on the latest trends and threats in digital safety and security to provide students with the best possible education and preparation for their future.

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