Paul Davis

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.

Social media seminar coming to town, all parents welcome


By Ron Giofu


Ever wonder what your kids are up to online?

Do you want to know about who they are interacting with on the internet and where they are posting to?

A social networking and online safety seminar is coming to Amherstburg Nov. 6 with speaker Paul Davis, who travels the country conducting these seminars, to talk about social media, smart phones and digital trails, cyberbullying, texting, sexting, online gaming and online security.

Teresa Conte, parent council president at Malden Central Public School, said she saw Davis speak twice, including a few years ago in Kingsville. She believes that more people in Amherstburg should see him speak.

Davis will be presenting to students at Malden Central, Anderdon and Amherstburg public schools as well as General Amherst High School Nov. 6-7.

However, the Nov. 6 evening presentation that is being held at General Amherst High School is open to all parents, regardless of school, as well as to those who work with children or youth.

“We’re opening it to the entire community,” said Conte, of the Nov. 6 evening presentation that starts at 6:30 p.m.

Conte said that parents need to learn about social networking and online safety before they can teach or guide their children.

Guest speaker Paul Davis will talk about how to use social media responsibly to students and parents. The seminar for parents is Nov. 6 at 6:30 p.m. at General Amherst High School. Everyone is welcome.

“We live in a rapidly changing digital world where our busy lives as parents don’t always allow us to keep up with the latest trends in technology and potential risks that affect our children and teens,” she said. “Parents need to make attending this evening session a priority just as they do with attending their children’s sport, music and school events.”

Conte believes that poor parent attendance at previous community social networking and online safety presentations is the result of fear—”the first being the fear of finding out what potential dangers their children are being exposed to in their own town and neighbourhood, the second fear is having to examine their own social networking/online behaviour and then making the necessary changes to correct them.”

Parents and those who work with youth should attend the public presentation so they know what is going on, Conte stated, as she said there are online problems happening locally on a regular basis.

“It’s worldwide. It’s going on in the community schools,” she said. “Parents don’t want to believe it.”

The Nov. 6 evening presentation to the public will be about 90 minutes, she added.

“After attending both of Paul’s past presentations, I made some changes to the amount and type of information I post online.  I expect to learn more in this upcoming presentation and I will continue to make changes because I want to teach my children by modeling the behaviour and not just lecturing to them,” said Conte.

Conte said she joined Malden Central’s parent council committee five years ago “because it seemed like a natural progression after a 20 year career of working at an organization whose mission was to teach and guide pre-teens, teens and young adults to make healthy life choices and decisions.” She hopes parents will come out Nov. 6 to learn about the dangers that can exist online, as she didn’t fully grasp it herself until she first saw Davis speak.

“I think parents need to understand how social media works,” said Conte.