Cowichan News Leader


Internet a safe place for those who play safe

Darren Laur explains the internet to parents who he calls digital immigrants. It’s the kids who he considers the ‘digital citizens, and adults need to keep up with them. — Image Credit: Malcolm Chalmers

Good news parents, your kids are doing “Super cool things on line.”

That was one message given by Darren Laur of Personal Protection Systems when he spoke about internet and social media privacy to a dozen parents at the Lake Cowichan School, Dec. 10.

“Although the majority of kids are doing good things there is still a small percentage of people doing bad things and those predators are the people we need to protect our children from.”

Laur feels kids are “Digital Citizens” and adults “Digital Immigrants” who have to be taught about the internet our kids are using.

In the two-hour session for parents, he taught participants some of the internet language their kids use online, some of the social media sites they are on and some of the pitfalls to look out for.

“The biggest threat to our kids is not sexual exploitation online like a lot of people think it is,” he said. “It is about their privacy and how their privacy is under attack, and what they are posting on their social networks today can come back on them later on.”

In the future, information or photos they share may be used against them when they apply for college, scholarships,and even for a job.

Identity theft is on the rise. Children as young as seven are having their personal information harvested. Names, addresses and birth dates are used to steal more than just credit

“Parents have the right to parent. If your child still believes in the Easter Bunny,   Santa Claus and leprechauns, then your child has no right to privacy on line. We, as parents, need to be supervising what they are doing.”

Laur suggests monitoring children’s use by using software to check what your younger kids are doing online.

“What kids really hate is when you spy on them and don’t tell them,” he said. “What they don’t mind is you monitoring what it is that they are doing, then, as they get older, they earn the right to privacy by showing really good digital citizenship”

Laur showed some of the privacy settings available to make sure too much information is not been seen by people other than friends. He also spoke about the importance of protecting our passwords.

“Like your toothbrush or underwear, don’t share them,” he said.

Laur also speaks to children. In fact, he has spoken to more than 137,000 students in Grades 6 to 12 in B.C., Saskatchewan and Washington State.

Before he speaks at a schools, he goes online and gathers information about students by ‘creeping’ their social media sites. He says he has creeped over 1,000,000 students.

Then, at his assemblies, he shows them just how much information he can gather about them sometimes in as little as 15 minutes. He then explains how that information can be used against them.

He has also created a false Facebook persona where he portrays himself as a 15-year-old girl. There he can interact with internet predators who are online. Sexting, punking, creeping and trolling are things he looks out for.

After the assemblies he encourages kids to get in touch with him if they are having problems with cyberbullying. He credits this work in saving 68 kids from harming themselves.

Even though there are not as many predators stalking the internets some might think, they are out there, and precautions are necessary.

“The internet can be like inviting a stranger into your child’s bedroom unsupervised,” he said.

Get their laptops and smart phones out of their bedrooms is his suggestion.

Lake Cowichan parent Jodie McKenzie appreciated the information.

“We have roles in learning what to do and what not to do online,” she said. “Every parent that has a child should have been here tonight.”

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