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A Parent’s Guide to Zoom
What is Zoom?
Zoom is a popular video conferencing platform that is now more commonly used in schools. It’s very similar to other video conferencing apps like FaceTime, Skype, or Google Hangouts, except Zoom has cool features that allow for big conferencing groups, virtual whiteboards, and other collaborative resources. You can get all the details in our Zoom review.
How do teachers use Zoom?
Zoom has many helpful tools that make it pretty perfect for kids to use with their teachers. These are the features you can expect your kid’s teacher to use while teaching them over Zoom.
- Screen sharing. Your kid’s teacher will likely share their screen to present lessons and demonstrate principles. It’s the same idea as your teacher using an overhead in class.
- Whiteboard. Your kid’s teacher may use this tool for kids to brainstorm ideas and participate in lessons.
Breakout rooms. Your kid’s teacher can divide kids into groups, have them work on something, and then bring the class back together afterwards.
- Special icons. There are Raise Hand, Clap, Disagree, Speed Up, and Slow Down icons that your kid can use to let the teacher know if they have a comment or are going too fast. Though I’d be careful about letting my kid tell the teacher to “speed up.”
- Group chat features. Everyone in the Zoom session can send and receive messages to each other. It’s like passing notes, but not as fun or challenging. Your kid’s teacher can productively use this feature to have partners exchange ideas and work together.
Make sure your kid understands the mute button
Everyone who isn’t actively speaking on Zoom should mute their microphone. Trust us on this one, non-muted mics can turn Zoom into a circus. A recent sketch on Saturday Night Live perfectly captures the point we’re trying to make.
Muting your microphone on Zoom is really easy. Just click the microphone icon on the bottom right once your kid starts a Zoom call. Make sure it has the red slash through it unless they are participating.
How do I keep my child engaged during Zoom?
Believe it or not, some kids have a hard time focusing on schoolwork while they’re on the computer. Hopefully your kid’s teacher does a good job engaging with students via Zoom, but it might be wise to stay in the room for a couple of teaching sessions to make sure your kid isn’t surfing the web or actually playing Fortnite or something.
How do I download Zoom for my child?
The first thing you’ll want to do is download Zoom on your computer. Here’s how:
How to download and install Zoom on your desktop
1. Go to Zoom’s website and hit the Download button.
2.Choose where you want to download the app. Your computer will probably default to downloading Zoom to your downloads folder (go figure).
3. Click the Zoom installer and allow it to run. If you’re on a Mac computer, it will look like this:
The installer will look like this on a Windows computer:
4. Let the installer do its thing, and Zoom should open once everything finishes.
How to download the Zoom app on your mobile device
1. Open your app store.
2. Search for Zoom.
3. Hit download.
This is what you'll see on the Apple App Store. I have the cloud icon instead of the download icon because I already have the app downloaded.
Downloading Zoom will look like this on an Android device. Except yours will probably say Download instead of Open (Zoom was already downloaded on this device)
How do I make a Zoom account for my kid?
Setting up a Zoom account is super simple. Sign up for a free Zoom account here. All your kid will need is an email address to set up their Zoom account.
If your kid will just be joining in via a link that the teacher sends out, then they won’t need to make their own account. Guests can join Zoom meetings without having an account with an invite link.
How do I protect my child on Zoom?
Zoom has had its issues with security in the past but has been actively working on upgrading its security for the last few years. Still, you should take every precaution to make sure you or your kid doesn’t get Zoombombed or exposed to anything you don’t want to see over Zoom.
There are two big tips we would recommend using to protect your kid while using Zoom.
Turn off Guest Screen Sharing
Turning off Guest Screen Sharing ensures that nobody can share their screen with your child. The last thing we want is total strangers showing our kids what they’ve got on their computer. Yikes.
Access your Zoom settings until you see Screen Sharing with a button slider. It will look like this:
Click the slider and the circle will move to the left, and become grayed out. Now other Zoom users will not be able to share their screen with your child.
It’s likely your kid’s teacher will want to show their screen as they teach, so you could just turn this setting back to green when you know your kid will be in a school setting.
Turn off Join Before Host
Turn off the Join Before Host option to make sure that no one joins in on your kid’s meeting before it even starts. Hackers have a window to join meetings before the host officially starts the Zoom conference call. Make sure this feature is off to close that window and help keep hackers out of your kid’s conference call.
To turn this setting off, scroll down the settings options until you see the Join Before Host option. Click the slider button until you see it’s grayed out.
Turning off these two features is a good place to start with protecting your kid on Zoom, but we recommend checking out our other Zoom security tips as well.
Make sure you have a reliable internet connection
It’s hard enough to learn outside of the classroom (also, sometimes in the classroom), but a glitchy Zoom stream will make learning pretty much impossible. You’ll want dedicated internet speeds of at least 225 kbps to smoothly run a large group Zoom meeting.
If your kid’s Zoom stream consistently glitches out, it might be time to upgrade your internet connection. Our internet expert, Catherine, recommends Xfinity internet as the best internet option available right now.
If you're not sure what internet providers are available in your area, you can enter your zip code below to see all of your internet options.
Want to learn more about how to keep your kid safe on Zoom? Read this.
Worried that your internet won’t be able to handle Zoom schooling? You can always upgrade.