| Apr 19, 2007


Feature Article - April 12, 2007

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Feature Article - April 12, 2007

Internet Safety for Children and Youth

OPP Officer Paige Whiting presented an internet safety primer at the Sharbot Lake High School this week for a group of interested parents, and a few wary teenagers.

While the internet is a tremendous tool that can be used by children from a very early age, it is often bewildering for parents whose children are constantly skipping around sites such as MSN Messenger, Facebook, and Youtube.

Two issues parents should be concerned about, according to Whiting, are children’s safety and their exposure to inappropriate content. The risk is that “strangers, at times pretending to be someone else, can communicate with your child and attempt to meet with them,” Whiting said.

To combat this, parents are encouraged to be aware of their children’s activities on the web, by keeping all computers in open areas of family homes, keeping tabs on children’s activities on the web, and making sure children do not go to meet people in person that they only know through the web.

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In terms of personal web pages, Whiting said that in her opinion, “they should not contain any kind of pictures of children or youths and their friends. They can be identified through school crests, anything that can place an individual in a place can be used by predators. Even if there are controls on sites, and passwords, there is no way to stop people from getting through. If a hacker can get through the White House’s security, a predator can get through a Picso password.”

There are ways parents can keep tabs on their child’s activity. If a child is constantly changing the screen when parents come near, it is a sign they are doing something they don’t want the parent to know about.

Parents can also monitor their children’s activity by looking at their history of site visits, or their downloaded files.

There is also a lot of information on the web itself about internet safety. A site that Paige Whiting pointed to is internetsafety101.ca, and another is netsmartz.org, which has internet safety pledges for different aged children. For middle and high school-aged children, pledges include “I will keep my identity private. I will never meet in person with anyone I have first “met” online without discussing it with my parents or guardian. I will talk with my parents or guardian about their expectations and ground rules for going online, and I will respect other people’s rights while online.”

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