Using technology to create projects or type papers benefits students greatly. However, students can easily become distracted by everything that the Internet offers. As students work on their online tasks, teachers may walk around the classroom and monitor their progress. At first glance, it may seem like everyone’s working productively. That’s why it’s important to know how students hide what they’re really doing on computers.

To find out what’s really going on in the classroom, check out these three ways that students hide their computer activity from their teachers.


Panic Buttons

With one swift click of the mouse or tap of the keyboard, students can rid the screen of what they’ve actually been looking at during class. Whether they’ve been playing games online or reading unrelated material, they can make it disappear as the teacher approaches.

Panic button extensions exist for many browsers, including Firefox, Safari and Chrome. Once activated, these extensions hide all browser tabs. A default screen — usually a new tab browser page — will also appear so teachers don’t suspect anything. Once the teacher looks away, students can then click on the icon to open all of the tabs that disappeared. Students can choose settings allowing them to simply tap a key on the keyboard to quickly activate the panic button.

However, teachers can check for signs that panic buttons are in play. On Google Chrome, the panic button shows up as a red exclamation icon to the right of the search bar. Once activated, the panic button icon turns green. On Safari, the panic button appears as an exclamation point icon to the left of the search bar. Also, monitoring software programs like LearnSafe come with an editable database of terms. Schools and districts can add search terms related to panic button extensions. Therefore, the software will flag and screenshot searches. This gives administrators and teachers the data they need for educated conversations about digital citizenship and work habits. 

Chatting on Google Docs

Google Docs offers students an excellent platform for peer review and revision. However, it also provides them a place to talk. If students share Google Docs with each other, they can work on an assignment simultaneously. They can also chat, gossip and bully

Teachers can quickly tell if other students are typing in the document by looking at the space to the left of the “Comments” button. If there are colored blocks with letters, then other people have the document open. If students work on school computers, monitoring software adds another layer of protection. Programs like LearnSafe detect instances of bullying, helping administrators maintain a safe learning environment.


Clearing Their Browser History

Students may clear their browsing history to prevent teachers from knowing exactly what they were doing on their computers. If a student looks at or searches for inappropriate content, ideally, the browsing history could provide actionable data. It could also help teachers know which students have not been working on their assignments.

Thankfully, you can easily disable the option to delete browsing history on most browsers. Content filters also prevent students from accessing inappropriate content in the first place. However, monitoring software bolsters student safety by providing actionable data about search terms. This can help schools intervene in dangerous situations and teach students how to stay safe online.

Text by Melissa Lawrence


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