CYBER SAFETY - Students at Ecole Fox Run learned about protecting theirselves online last week.

CYBER SAFETY - Students at Ecole Fox Run learned about protecting theirselves online last week.

Ecole Fox Run hosts cyber safety session

Students at Ecole Fox Run School were given a crash course on how to maintain and respect the online safety of themselves and others.

  • Apr. 13, 2017 8:00 p.m.

Students at Ecole Fox Run School were given a crash course on how to maintain and respect the online safety of themselves and others. The information session was a comprehensive look at what causes threats to cyber safety, and the kinds of experiences people can encounter online which affect cyber safety. There was a focus on what can be done to preserve and respect the safety and dignity of oneself and others online.

“We’re doing these Internet safety presentations for students, as well as parents, to bring everybody onto the same page in terms of what’s popular with kids, but also what some adults seem to be aware of,” said Julie Parr, a public educator with Saffron Centre, a purveyor of counselling services in Strathcona County.

Parr said it can be difficult to keep up with the many trends online, when trying to maintain cyber security on the Internet, noting that “I think, with parents and adults, if we keep googling what the top 10 trends are with teens and tweens, we can stay on top of this a whole lot better.”

She added, “It’s not even that difficult to understand what they’re using and how they’re using it.”

Parr advised parents to have continual conversations with their children about what constitutes a healthy relationship, both online and offline.

Being a healthy digital citizen can help children avoid a great deal of emotional grief, and serves as a reminder of the quality of person they need to be in a healthy relationship, Parr noted.

“If we practice it offline, we should start practicing it online. And if you wouldn’t do it offline, don’t do it online,” said Parr. “For younger students, we’re saying that if it doesn’t make somebody’s day better, don’t do it.”

Parr said that often, when people interact with one another online, they tend to separate those online interactions with those that happen in real life.

“They don’t consider what they do online to be real at all. That’s an important piece of information for the adults in their lives to reinforce,” said Parr. “This is real, your conversations are real. They are who you are training yourselves to be, and the expectations you’re setting for yourself.”

An example Parr used was the variety of harassment and abuse children receive when playing games like Minecraft, while online.

“They are engaging in conversations with strangers, and they’ve been sworn at, mocked and made fun of,” said Parr. “We don’t want seven-year olds to begin to believe that’s normal.”

The presentation featured a number of resources for those who have been victimized online. Advice ranged from assistance on how to remove inappropriate images of oneself from social media sites, along with various community supports, family and social services and sources of support within the school system, such as counsellors.

“The important thing to realize is that these are kids online, and not adults. They do need our help and support, sometimes for a long time after things go wrong,” said Parr. “We also want to talk to kids, and teach them how to support one another, instead of ostracizing, when things go wrong. Be kind online, that’s what we always say.”

samuel.macdonald@sylvanlakenews.com