The conversation surrounding online safety for kids and teens is becoming increasingly important – especially as cyberbullying continues to plague young users in Canada.
Ninety countries worldwide, including Canada, are taking part in the 13th annual Safer Internet Day (SID) Tuesday in order to raise awareness and support for issues that young people face online.
The awareness campaign, which was started as an initiative of the EU SafeBorders project in 2004, brings to light emerging online issues facing younger generations, including cyber bullying, online luring and concerns surrounding social networking.
SID 2016 encourages users to “Play your part for a better Internet” – encourages parents to talk to their kids about online safety and security, including how to deal with so-called “revenge porn,” when peers share private sexual images or videos without permission.
The Canadian Centre for Child Protection leads Canada’s participation in the annual event. The centre’s special site “The Door That’s Not Locked“ includes information for parents, teachers and youth about online safety. The website encourages all generations to learn about online activities that are popular with youth and the potential risks surrounding those activities.
This year, the Canadian government is also promoting its website NeedHelpNow.ca, an initiative that aims to help teens stop the spread of sexual pictures or videos. The website provides support and advice for teens dealing with revenge porn by offering tips on how to remove private pictures or videos from the web, how to deal with gossip and peers and provides information about the laws in Canada that protect victims of revenge porn.
NeedHelpNow.ca also provides information about how to report a potential crime related to the illegal sharing of private images.
Tips for parents about online safety
Know what features your child’s smartphone is equipped with
The Canadian Centre for Child Protection recommends that parents take the time to learn about what features are included on their child’s smartphone. Parents should know about the phone’s parental controls and whether the phone’s location services are turned on, to ensure third party applications are not giving away the location of the user.
Know your child’s screen names and passwords
The Door That’s Not Locked website encourages parents of younger children, from ages 8 to 12, to know their children’s screen names and passwords for online accounts. The website also encourages parents to be present whenever their child is setting up an online profile.
Encourage open communication
Both sites encourage parents to talk to their teenagers openly about their experiences on the internet, especially when it comes to peer pressure and meeting strangers in chat rooms. This includes speaking openly with teens about things like sharing revealing pictures online, or meeting with a stranger they met online, and the consequences those actions might have.