Youth at UW

Protecting youth privacy and security in Zoom

UW provides UW Zoom Pro to faculty, staff and students, and it has quickly emerged as a popular platform for hosting virtual meetings, webinars, and other interactions. Zoom is not designed specifically for a youth audience, and so University users must take additional measures to protect youth safety and privacy. In addition to the below Zoom-specific guidance, programs should also abide by our general guidance for virtual interactions (not specific to a platform) when using Zoom. 

Guidance for youth programs using Zoom

Take proactive steps to prevent outside interference (e.g., Zoombombing).

Don’t post links to private Zoom meetings on public websites. Only distribute links via email to authorized attendees.

We recommend you follow UW-IT’s guidance about protecting Zoom meeting spaces and additional security tips

Restrict use of recordings and screen captures.

Limit use of recordings. Record only when necessary for program goals and when other ways to achieve those goals are unavailable, and only after soliciting required consents. 

Prevent unsanctioned recordings by everyone else by setting your Zoom meeting settings to:

  • prevent non-hosts from recording the session, and 
  • prevent non-hosts from saving or copying the chat log. 

Review prohibitions of recording and screen capturing with both staff and participants in training and your codes of conduct. (See our codes of conduct and virtual interactions addenda.)

Design Zoom-based interactions to eliminate private, unmonitored 1:1 interactions.

One feature of Zoom is the ability to organize breakout rooms within a conference to facilitate small group discussion. Abide by the Rule of 3: have either 2 adults present with a youth, or 2 youth present with an adult in all your program spaces, in-person or virtual. Ensure that there is adequate staff coverage in both the main room and each of the breakout rooms to prevent a single adult and single youth ever being alone in a Zoom room together. 

You may also want to restrict the use of the in-meeting chat to hosts only, or disable the chat entirely. This would prevent youth from being able to talk to each other without supervision.

Assign multiple hosts.

Designate at least 2 staff members as “hosts” for the meeting. “Host” status allows a person to control the meeting and participants and change meeting settings if necessary.

Divide responsibilities for the meeting or session between your hosts: for example, assign one host to monitor the chat (if enabled) and respond to any questions or concerns raised there, while the other host facilitates the session.

Be prepared to promptly respond to any disruptions.

Before the meeting, review your response protocols with your co-hosts and divide responsibilities among your team.

Should a disruption occur, immediately use the in-meeting controls to:

  • Lock the meeting, preventing new participants from joining, if you haven’t done so already. (As mentioned above, we recommend locking all meetings proactively once all authorized attendees are present as a preventive measure.)
  • Remove the offending party from the meeting. You may also want to disable the “Allow removed participants to rejoin” setting in your Zoom settings. The removed participant will not be able to rejoin if the meeting is locked.
    • If you don’t want to remove the offending party from the meeting entirely, you can disable their video, mute them, or place them “on hold.” Hold status blocks them from seeing video and hearing audio, but allows the meeting to continue for everyone not on hold. These options might be appropriate if it is an authorized attendee causing the disruption, instead of an outside intruder.
  • Report the user to Zoom and, as applicable, follow University reporting guidelines for behaviors of concern and suspected child abuse or neglect

If these controls do not eliminate the problem, calmly announce to your group you are ending the meeting and that you will contact them soon to regroup. End the meeting for all participants.

When the immediate disruption is resolved, attend to your participants. Don’t gloss over or downplay the incident, especially if it included threats, slurs, or other triggering content. Inside Higher Ed suggests additional steps to assist with this process.

Don’t forget to take care of yourself and other staff, too. UW CareLink can provide referrals to supportive resources for staff.

Resources for Zoom