Managing Security for Kids on Zoom

posted on Apr 23 2020

by Robert "Bob" Tarushka, Director of Performances

With great functionality comes great responsibility! With much discussion about Zoom security concerns, we did research to ensure how to set up your Zoom settings for optimal safety with kids. The good news is that there are security and functionality measures you can take to make your Zoom meeting free of setbacks Here are some of our best practices:

Before Your Meeting

Have a Password Enabled

Zoom now enables passwords on meetings by default. The password is now included in a longer hyperlink, so the functionality of people only needing to click a link to get on is still there. When you do send the link to your participants, make sure to include the password regardless, just in case something goes awry and they are prompted to enter it. A password is a great security feature to have on your meeting, but you don’t want it to be a hurdle for entry- make sure your participants have all the tools to get onto your Zoom meeting.

Enable the Waiting Room

While this might be less feasible if you are expecting a large number of participants, the waiting room is a great way for you to be able to admit people into your meeting manually. That means that you control who comes in, and if you don’t recognize someone’s name or handle, you don’t have to let them in. While you do have the ultimate control over who is in your meeting (because you can remove them at any time), if you are dealing with a smaller or personalized group, you can control who even gets in at the very start.

Create a RSVP Page

Creating a registration/RSVP page for an event is a must have for security. If participants register for your event, you not only get a clearer picture of who will be coming in advance, but it also prevents you from having to put a link/password in a more public place, like just sitting on your website where anyone can access it. By minimizing the number of people who have your Zoom link, you can help protect it from potential hackers who may want to disrupt your event.

Meeting Settings

Zoom provides you with a wide variety of tools to help keep your event focused during the meeting itself. While preceding tips have been geared towards security, these are more about managing people within the Zoom meeting. Strong in-meeting security can help to supplement security steps you took in getting the link out to the people who need it because any potential hacker would need to be able to first get into your meeting and THEN deal with the measures you have taken to stay in control of the meeting itself. These are all settings that can be found under “Settings” in your account.

Disable Private Chat

The chat function is a wonderful tool during a meeting especially when all the participants are muted. There is a button that allows you to disable private chat, which means you prevent them from talking to each other individually. Their options during the event itself are to talk privately to either of the hosts OR to everyone. We have found this to be useful as a way to dissuade potential bullying between people at your event. Also keep in mind that you can turn off the chat at any point in the meeting if it gets too rowdy by selecting that participants can chat with “no one” in the chat window drop down.

Disable File Transfer

We have disabled file transfer on our events because there is no way to differentiate between whether a host or a participant is allowed to share, so we think it is wiser to eliminate it altogether.

Enable Co-Host

If you enable co-hosts, you will be able to give most Host permissions to a user of your choosing. They will be able to spotlight, mute or un-mute themselves, handle any polling, and generally help you manage the meeting. You assign co-hosts at the start of the meeting manually, so be sure that you and your co-host(s) get there a little early to put it all in place.

Enable Polling

Polling is a fun function that is relatively new to meetings. It allows you to ask multiple choice questions during your event. Participants can answer trivia, vote in opinion-based question, or even do a “choose-your-adventure” type of activity. Please be aware that you should have the poll questions completed in the backend of the meeting before the meeting actually starts. Also keep in mind that you can have multiple questions in the same poll. If you have questions you would like to ask at different points in the meeting, make sure they are in different polls because if they are in the same poll, the questions will be displayed together.

Change Screen Sharing to “Host Only”

Screen Sharing by default is available to all the people in the meeting. If you change it to “host only,” it means that participants will not be able to derail your meeting by sharing THEIR screen at any point either as a joke or to display inappropriate content. This is a great way to keep them focused on what YOU are doing instead of what other people might do.

Disable Annotation and White Board

While Annotation and White Board are wonderful features to have during a presentation to a small group, if you have an event, you will want to disable them because like file transfer, Zoom does not let you have “Host only” control over those features. If they are enabled, then any participant can draw on your shared screen or share a whiteboard, so it is wiser ultimately to not give them the chance.

Enable Non-Verbal Feedback

This function allows participants to click emoji-styled buttons that display in the Participants channel or in the corner of their screen. This is a great thing to have with a limited chat function because it gives an element of control and communication to participants.

Virtual Backgrounds

While virtual backgrounds are fun, they can be used to display ANY image. If you think that they could be too much of a distraction or an avenue for inappropriate content, you can disable them as well. That being said, YOU would also not be able to use virtual backgrounds in this capacity.

During the Meeting

Disable Participants Being Able to Unmute Themselves

In a dropdown box in the participants tab, you can deselect “participants can unmute themselves” to make it so the host/co-hosts are the only ones capable of unmuting anyone. This will allow you to have control over who is speaking at any time, and is a powerful tool to enable at the beginning of the meeting in combination with “mute participants upon entry.”

How to Disable Renaming

Participants by default can rename themselves. If you do not want to give them that ability, or want to reserve that power for Hosts only, simply unselect it (it’s in the same menu as the “unmute” function).

How to Disable Chat

If you find the step of disabling the chat necessary, simply click the ellipsis icon in the chat window and turn it to “No One,” which means that participants will be unable to chat with anyone.

How to Remove Participants

If you need to remove someone for their conduct, you can remove the participant easily. You can also give Hosts the ability to report participants to Zoom itself under the Security tab. If you do not want to kick someone out immediately, and you have configured your settings like we have suggested, you can also simply turn off their video (which they will be unable to turn back on without you). This is a great “time-out” option for someone you want to keep in the meeting, but want to minimize their impact. If their conduct is severe enough, you can always remove them completely.

We hope that these best practices will help in your virtual programming as much as they have aided in ours. If you have a tip you think should be added, let us know at!

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Robert "Bob" Tarushka

posted on Apr 23 2020

by Robert "Bob" Tarushka

As Director of Performances, Bob has personally visited hundreds of camps where he writes, produces, and performs original shows and workshops. Bob received a double major in English Literature and Theater at The University of New Hampshire and has previous experience on staff at Second Stage Theatre, Dixon Place, Planet Connections Theatre Festivity, Shrunken Shakespeare Company, Underling Productions, and more.