Medicine Hat News

Hat students to focus on reducing Internet riskBY PEGGY REVELL ON MARCH 10, 2015.

Darren Laur with Personal Protection Systems Inc, speaks to students Monday at the Cypress Centre as part of multiple lectures being held this week to show students how to be safer online. --NEWS PHOTO PEGGY REVELL

With great power comes great responsibility — it’s the message Darren Laur with Personal Protections Systems Inc. hopes hundreds of students take with them following multiple presentations about online safety this week.

“Kids are doing all kinds of cool things online,” and many are “really good digital citizens,” said Laur, also a staff sergeant with the Victoria City Police Department. His goal with the presentations is to show students how to minimize risk.

The lectures are sponsored through the Medicine Hat Safe Community Association and Medicine Hat police, and come as part of fraud prevention month.

“Knowledge is power,” said MHSCA chair Lisa Gervais on the reason behind bringing in Laur. “Everyone uses the Internet; we all know how to use it but we don’t know how to use it safely.”

“Everything is to do with their digital dossier,” Laur said, emphasizing how all information shared online — no matter the privacy setting used — can somehow be accessed.

The biggest concern is “too much information,” said Laur, which can lead to everything from ruining school and job prospects to identity theft and fraudulent crimes that can ruin credit ratings before these students even have credit cards.

Sexual predators online are actually a rarity, he noted, as youth understand people may not be who they say they are — but there is the growing issue of “peer-to-peer” bullying and abuse instead.

And his advice for parents?

“Don’t fear the Internet; the Internet is a powerful tool,” he said, pointing to the many amazing things youth are doing online, from filmmaking and writing, to monetizing their projects.

Many parents hand their children “keys to the digital highway,” but proper safety is a parental issue.

“The only way to deal with it is to understand technology,” he said, adding much of what he’s learned about technology has come from his own son. “If you give your kid an opportunity to teach, they’ll teach you.”

                     © Personal Protection Systems Inc 2014