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Creating a Positive Digital Footprint

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Friday, April 15, 2016 @ 11:46 AM

Darren Laur “White hat”  sharing safety and security tips with  Prince George parents – photo250News

Prince George, B.C.- It was one of the  largest audiences Darren Laur  has  experienced,  “It shows me you care  about your kids”.

Laur,  a former Staff Sergeant with  Victoria Police,  was addressing  a gathering at Vanier  Hall last night,   giving parents tips on how to keep their kids safe on the internet. He is considered a “White Hat”  one  who gathers information on the web  for the purpose of education.   Black  Hats on the other hand  are  all about  using the web for  all the wrong  reasons.

“Internet  and social media are  the coolest thing  ever” said Laur as he launched into  a two hour presentation that was marked with humour and plenty of examples  of how  the ability to  instantly connect with anyone  in the world can be both  beneficial, and extremely harmful, especially to those who don’t realize that  when it comes to the internet and social media,  there is no privacy. He said he  and his wife have  assisted 117 young people who were depressed and suicidal  having  been victims of  cyber bullying   which he prefers to call “peer aggression”.

One of the biggest mistake anyone can make is to have too much information available  on their  social media  pages ( such as facebook),  and  detailed how , through accessing photos and information on a young woman’s page,  he was able to locate her  in  just 15 minutes.  “Everything on the net is  public, permanent, searchable, exploitable and for sale” said Laur.

That information  can  lead to  a number of crimes,  including  identity theft,  or  access to your home when  you aren’t there.

He  pressed the point  that  texts and images sent  or posted today,  could well come back to haunt young people as they try to  go to  University,  get a job or  even a  bank loan,  as  the internet has become a “digital dossier”.

Clipping after clipping appeared on a screen behind him,   news stories of  promising young people who were  denied or rejected  for scholarships  or jobs because of the messages  and images they had posted in the years  before  their applications had been  submitted.

He advised parents to “learn the language” of the net,  and   to not be afraid to  install   software on a smart phone or computer that  is capable of  letting parents know  which sites their children have been  visiting and to watch for  signs  that would  indicate  the kids are visiting sites, or  sending  texts which they shouldn’t be.   “If they turn off the computer  when you enter the room,  or  don’t want to show you the  last 10 texts  they sent,  that should be a red flag”.

He  encouraged parents to  get the computer or  smart phone out of  the bedroom,   as  teens  are likely to be  texting  or on the net  till  well past midnight  which  interferes with  healthy sleep.  He also  advised  parents  get their children to teach them about the net,  set aside  one night a week to have a “digital dinner” where  parents and kids  can share information about new apps, or sites   and communicate that family values carry  over to the digital world.

Having a smart phone is not a right  said Laur, it is a privilege,  and  parents,  ( as holders of the contract for those under 19)  are entitled to  know how that  social  tool is being used.    He  urged parents to  ensure  passwords are changed every six months “Treat  your passwords  as if  they were a toothbrush or underwear.  They need to be changed,  but  never shared.”

His website, offers  tips and links to  assist parents in learning more  or to access  specific software.

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