Internet safety begins offline

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Lessons learned during Safer Internet Day

AMHERST – It's another snowday with school cancellations today and while some kids will get outdoors and enjoy winter others will stay inside and turn to the online world of the Internet for amusement.

It's a common trend and police across the province are hoping parents will use this opportunity to remember the lessons learned during Safer Internet Day, which took place earlier this month.

The RCMP in Nova Scotia were reinforcing this year's theme, 'Let's make the Internet Safer Together' by informing people about online and smartphone safety, ‘sexting,’ healthy relationships, bullying and appropriate boundaries.

“Safer Internet Day is an opportunity to remind people on a global scale that we all have a role to play when participating in the online community,” Const. Colleen Fequet of the Nova Scotia RCMP Internet Child Exploitation Unit said. “Unfortunately, I see unsafe online activity every day in my job. We all can help create a safer Internet by getting involved, being cautious and reporting anything inappropriate. Through education and parenting in this digital world, we can empower our children to be safe while they explore, learn and play online.”

Along with parents, teachers also play a critical role in teens' lives and in recognition of this the Canadian Centre for Child Protection distributed over one million Internet safety materials to schools across Canada free-of-charge. Both parents and teachers alike can access age-specific Internet safety information by visiting The Door That's Not Locked website: www.thedoorthatsnotlocked.ca.

Offline, parents are encourage to talk with their children about what information is permissible to share. Are parents comfortable with their children listing online where their hometown is? Their school? It’s a conversation that starts at the kitchen table, said Const. Travise Dow with the Cumberland RCMP.

“I would suggest that parents help their children to think critically about the situation. Where are they sharing this information, why are they sharing this information and who might see this information?” Dow said. “The RCMP wishes all Canadians to keep their private information just that, private. With increased access to information, youth are more connected to the world than ever before. This can have positive and negative consequences.”

 

Childproofing the Internet

With social media constantly being in a state of evolution, it’s not always easy for parents to keep up with what’s happening on the Internet, but Const. Travise Dow offers a few tips:

  • teach them that what they post online can not be deleted
  • teach them that it is ok to say "no" to a friend request from an unknown source; luring children is a real issue online
  • computers should be placed in busy family areas like the kitchen or family room.
  • Set time limits on the use of computers for anyone under 10
  • Parents should monitor the use of devices (phones, laptops, tablets, cameras) so you’re aware of their contacts and the content the children create.
  • Establish a family recharging station in a central location, outside of the bedroom to store devices overnight.
  • for teenagers, treat online chats like in person chats. Don't say it online if you wouldn't in person

• make healthy choices in friendships, in person and online.

• manage your online content, photos, videos - who is seeing this information and why?

• youth should be monitored while they play and work online; from home work to fun and games, the computers should be monitored by adults to ensure safety.

Organizations: RCMP, Canadian Centre

Geographic location: Nova Scotia, Canada

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