ONTARIO – Children and youth are increasingly living out a large proportion of their daily lives online — whether using technology to communicate with friends, seek entertainment, or learn and broaden their knowledge about the world around them. While the internet provides learning opportunities, it also opens the door to the potential exploitation of children, including cyber bullying and on-line threats.
The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) reminds parents that they have an important role to play ensuring their children use the internet safely. Parents should discuss the potential dangers of the Internet with their children and educate them on how to handle situations if they arise. Here are some basic things parents can do to protect their children:
- Monitor sites visited by your children.
- Keep the computer in an open area of the home.
- Remind children to protect their passwords; never let them share them with friends. It’s a good idea for parents to have the passwords.
- Unplug or cover webcams when they’re not in use.
- Be sure who they’re talking to before allowing them to turn on a web cam.
- Make sure they protect their on-line identity at all times and don’t give out any identifying information (cell phone number, address, date of birth or photos).
- Don’t let them get involved in a chat room discussion with someone you don’t know.
- Limit the amount of time they spend online.
- Explore the games your child plays to determine if they are age-appropriate.
- Communicate openly with your child, encouraging him/her to share feelings.
The Canadian Centre for Child Protection (CCCP) has created a web-based, bilingual resource at www.NeedHelpNow.ca . This website is a place where teens can turn to find out how to regain control over what can quickly become a frightening and overwhelming experience. The website provides young people with practical advice and helpful information to manage the harassment they might feel over what they may have done online.
NeedHelpNow.ca provides strategies to empower youth to take action to protect themselves.