Use #SaferInternetDay as a reminder

Kids at high risk, but computer safety affects all generations

Today is Safer Internet Day, an awareness campaign celebrated in about 130 countries. The event calls on the world’s citizens to share respect online, and work to teach children and youth about using the internet in a safe and responsible way. At any age, a person online from the privacy of their home is also online to the world.

“The internet is a powerful tool that can lift, inspire and enable our young people to achieve great things, but this tool must be used with great respect,” said Jinny Sims, Minister of Citizens’ Services. “Understanding the importance of online safety is something our children need to learn at an early age. We all play a role in ensuring British Columbians, young and old, can enjoy the time they spend online.”

Oak Bay Police Department shares that sentiment of safety, says Deputy Chief Ray Bernoties.

“We’re seeing dramatic increases in Canada in the number of crimes committed online. These include frauds, extortions, threats, and bullying,” said Deputy Chief Ray Bernoties. “These investigations require a great deal of time and resources. It used to be that a youth might be bullied by a neighbouring kid on the way to school. That took us about half an hour to address. Now the suspect might live on the other side of the world and use a computer not associated to him. You can imagine the challenges we face in dealing with that.”

The Office of the Chief Information Officer offers British Columbians numerous resources to help families stay safe while surfing the internet and using connected devices. For tips on social media best practices, links to educational resources and advice on promoting child and youth online safety, visit gov.bc.ca/informationsecurityawareness.

RELATED: 4 in 10 young Canadians have sent a sext, 6 in 10 have received one: report

Almost a quarter of Grade 4 students in Canada own their own cell phone. An estimated 30 per cent of students in grades 4 to 6 have a Facebook account. An estimated 37 per cent of Canadian students in grades 4 to 11 report being cyberbullied, while 78 per cent of students in grades 7 to 11 have come across racist or sexist content online. Cyberbullying is constantly evolving alongside changes to technology and social media. Cyberbullying has meant kids can now be bullied 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, regardless of where they are.

“Even letting your child play a seemingly harmless on-line game could introduce them to surprising pop-ups, access by strangers, and other risks. Parents should monitor their kids on-line activity closely,” Bernoties said.

British Columbians can participate in the global rally to promote a better internet by using the #SID2018 and #SaferInternetDay hashtags on social media.

“Anyone with any access to a computer or cell phone should be aware of the many ways criminals will try to contact them. Criminals will pretend to be someone you used to know, or they will try to befriend you, or possibly threaten you. Whatever works,” Bernoties said. “No one is immune from them as they target children, youth, adults and seniors.”

For tips on how to recognize and respond to instances of cyber bullying, the B.C. government’s www.erasebullying.ca website contains helpful advice for parents and youth alike.

RESOURCES

From cyberbullying to social networking, each year Safer Internet Day aims to raise awareness of emerging online issues: saferinternetday.org

The Canadian Centre for Child Protection offers tips on understanding kids’ online interests, and what the risks are: protectkidsonline.ca

Canada’s Office of the Privacy Commissioner offers online privacy tips, as well as a graphic novel designed to help youth better understand and navigate online privacy issues: priv.gc.ca/en/privacy-topics/privacy-and-kids/


 

cvanreeuwyk@oakbaynews.com

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