Parents, students advised how to stay safe online



By Ron Giofu


Approximately 50 adults and hundreds more students have been given tips on how to stay safe and secure online thanks to a speaker that travels the country on the subject.

Paul Davis was brought to Amherstburg recently with it being a co-operative effort between local public elementary and secondary schools, though an evening talk for parents was open for all parents. Efforts to bring Davis to town were led by Malden Central parent council chair Teresa Conte.

Davis has spoken to over 490,000 students on the topic of online safety and social networking and told the crowd in the General Amherst High School library that they should “be a parent” and that children are often “empowered” by their parents to use technology.

“Get the technology out of the bedroom,” he said. “It doesn’t belong there.”

Children often go online to get attention, he stated, and advised parents to spend more time with their kids and give them the approval they need rather than get it through “likes” or “follows” online. Keep phones away from the dinner table, he added, so that there is more family time.

“They need the discipline of respect,” he said.

Davis warned about “digital trails” and that everything posted online takes effort and intent. Smart phones are the easiest way to leave such a trail, he stated.

“Please remind children that a phone is a privilege and not a right,” said Davis.

Paul Davis speaks to parents recently at General Amherst High School about online safety.

Cell phones in school that are kept out of the students’ hands can lead to more focused and engaged children, he believed, and that it would mean they are less distracted. He showed examples of a “cell phone hotel,” which was something that can hang from a door with sleeves for cell phones.

“This can help every teacher, every principal and every classroom,” said Davis.

Sexting was another topic covered by Davis, noting “there is no such thing as safe sexting.” He urged people never to transmit parts of their body online though he finds that many kids either know about it or do it.

“I don’t like this topic (but) it’s mandatory to save kids,” he said. “It’s not what technology is made for.”

Davis warned that “the internet never forgets” and that words like love and trust don’t exist in the online world. Revenge porn was discussed with Davis stating that it is illegal for someone to use the other person’s body against them. Facebook deals with 54,000 cases of revenge porn per month, he said.

“That’s a staggering number.”

Parents need to have awkward and uncomfortable conversations with their children, he added. If they need help, Davis encouraged people not to be afraid to go get in and not accept “we can’t help” as an answer, though added people should be respectful of police, principals and other authority figures in their pursuit of assistance.

Employers often search out a person’s online profiles, Davis added, so people need to be cognizent of what they are sharing and posting online. Passwords should differ from site to site and should be written and in a safe location within the home. He also suggested not giving wireless passwords to their children and getting them online themselves, then getting them off the web with an app-enabled router so that the web surfing shuts off at a time suitable to the parents.

Davis also spent his time in Amherstburg speaking with students at General Amherst, Malden Central, Amherstburg and Anderdon Public Schools.

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