Internet Safety Expert Speaks at Lakewood

Internet safety expert speaks at Lakewood

By Christopher Anderssons , North County Outlook

December 7, 2016 | Vol. 10 No. 6 | View PDF

Lakewood High School brought in internet safety expert Darren Laur to talk to parents and students about digital safety and other realities of the modern age.

Laur is a retired Staff Sergeant from the Victoria City Police Department where he spent many years working investigations through the internet and social media.

A couple of teachers from the high school encouraged the school to bring in Laur to speak after seeing him talk last year to help students learn about the dangers of the internet.

On Nov. 30 he talked with students at the high school and later with parents in the evening.

Even though there are many dangers, Laur said the internet has brought just as many positives.

“I’m not going to stand in front of you as parents and say to you that I think the internet is this horrible, evil thing that is polluting the minds of our youth, quite the contrary,” he said.

Instead Laur recommends critical thinking and working with children so that you can prevent mistakes.

He hopes that students work to make their social media participation something that won’t hold them back in their future.

“Like it or not, by default, their social networks have become ‘digital resumes’ of who they are, and those digital resumes are becoming more important than any paper resumes they’re going to hand in,” said Laur.

Screening social media profiles is now done for numerous applications, including taking out loans, buying a car, renting an apartment, applying for a job or trying to get into college.

“They’re looking at every social network your kids are using now,” said Laur. “You’d be fooling yourself to think they’re not looking at what you post online,” he said.

And although there are privacy settings online, those privacy settings can still be bypassed.

“Everything your kids do online, no matter the privacy setting, is public, permanent, searchable, exploitable, copyable and for sell,” said Laur.

Laur also mentioned that this applies to parents as well, who should think about what they’re posting about their children.

“Some of you have been posting online about your kid ever since they were born,” he said.

Things like naked baby pictures posted on social media sites have started being used in bullying incidents in middle school, said Laur.

“We never thought about this until we started seeing it,” he said.

Laur also warned of “internet addiction” or other suspicious behavior.

He said it was time to be concerned when parents see two or more of the following: large amount of time online at night, turning off the screen quickly when a parent enters the room, secretive about internet activities, always “doing homework” online, questionable materials downloaded, unexplained long-distance calls, or withdrawing from family activities.

When those behaviors are “clustered” together, it can be a sign of addiction or a sign that someone online is trying to distance a child from their family, possibly for sexual purposes.

One of the best things parents can do is get internet out of the privacy of the bedroom.

“When bad internet things happen, it’s always a teen, in their bedroom, unsupervised by a parent,” said Laur.

The blue light from smart phones or computers also disrupts sleeping patterns, said Laur, so ensuring some time away from screens helps sleep, he said.

In addition, there are some monitoring programs available for Macs or PC, however, Laur recommends always being open about the use of these programs.

“We’re trying to teach our kids to be open and honest with us about the internet. If you put this on your computer and you don’t tell them you are, you’re modeling bad behavior. You’re teaching them it’s okay to keep secrets,” he said.

The biggest thing Laur recommends is parental participation and actively asking children how they use the internet.

More information and resources about internet safety are available at Laur’s website at personalprotectionsystems.ca.

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