School shutdowns throughout the state have students at home participating in online, live video-based instruction, also called “distance learning.” Although some are referring to this as “homeschooling,” any pre-2020 homeschooling parent will agree this is nothing like what California families have happily done for the last 40 years.
Many schools, both public and private, are utilizing Zoom or other online programs to facilitate live, virtual class time with a teacher. While it may seem like school from home would facilitate a safer learning environment than that of a public school, there are those taking advantage of the online platforms. Various individuals have gained access to online classrooms with the worst of motives.
In Florida, a man succeeded in joining a middle school classroom’s math class and exposed himself to the students.[i] In Oregon, a middle-school teacher reported that someone took control of their online lesson and displayed graphic material.[ii] Here in California, San Leandro fifth-graders were “zoom-bombed” with pornographic images and offensive language.[iii] In Placer and Sutter counties in California, it is reported that several classrooms were interrupted by pornographic material, with one person visibly taking off his pants. In some cases, it is even the students themselves misbehaving by jumping into other classes and disrupting them.[iv]
While these incidents of indecency are few and far between, it is important to be aware of the potential problems with online, live video-based instruction. The aforementioned examples show that video-based distance learning may be comparable to turning your kids loose on the internet, with no restrictions or filtering. It is frustrating to read these stories, knowing there are individuals who enjoy disrupting classes and exposing kids to obscene content. All parents should be aware of the potential dangers since their children may be using video-conferencing platforms much more this school year.
[i] Postal, Leslie. “Online Intruder Hacks into Zoom Video, Exposes Himself to Orange County Middle-School Math Students.” Orlandosentinel.com, Orlando Sentinel, 2 Sept. 2020, http://www.orlandosentinel.com/coronavirus/os-ne-coronavirus-zoom-class-man-exposed-himself-20200403-5jm6bbmuhvcsvp3b4ap5c4ealu-story.html.
[ii] Hunt, Chelsea, and Evita Garza. “Roseburg Online Class Interrupted by Porn.” KEZI News, 2020, http://www.kezi.com/content/news/Roseburg-students-exposed-to-graphic-content-in-Zoom-hack-569631981.html.
[iii] Hegarty, Peter. “San Leandro Fifth-Graders Zoom-Bombed with Pornographic Images.” East Bay Times, East Bay Times, 27 Aug. 2020, http://www.eastbaytimes.com/2020/08/27/hacker-targets-online-class-in-san-leandro-with-pornography.
[iv] Lin, Stephanie. “Some Virtual Classes in Placer, Sutter Counties Hacked by Students.” KCRA, KCRA, 15 Aug. 2020, http://www.kcra.com/article/some-virtual-classes-in-placer-sutter-counties-hacked-by-students/33610438.