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Keeping kids safe online

Love, care for and respect each other

As part of our school mission, vision and values in developing ethical and responsible citizens online and offline, we had the pleasure on September 12, 2016, of having Paul Davis address all students in grade 4 to grade 12, teachers, administrators, and the CFIS parent community, on how to be safe online. He covered various different topics throughout the day, and repeatedly reminded students to always love, care and respect each other on and offline. 
The following article addresses some of the major focuses of his presentation. 

1. No technology in the bedroom

He began his first presentation by asking the grade 4 to grade 6 students the following four questions:

  • How many of you have in your bedroom at home a computer, iPod Tablet, Chromebook, PC? (About 75% of children raised their hands.)
  • How many of you watch YouTube? (Almost everyone raised their hands.)
  • How many of you own or use a smartphone or a cell phone ? (Roughly 60 children raised their hands.)
  • Does anyone in this group have Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook? (A few hands went up). 

Surprised by some of the students responses, he pointed out the following:

  • No technology should be in the bedroom because children are curious, and curiosity in your bedroom alone, is not safe. 
  • YouTube terms and conditions indicate that YouTube is not intended for children under 13, and asks that children under 13 use other sites. Paul Davis recommended that everyone install YouTube kids on their devices. 
  • He clarified with all CFIS students that their parents own their Smartphone and that if the device is used inappropriately, it will be their parents that will get into trouble. 
  • Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook all indicate in their Terms of Usage, that children need to be at least 13 year of age to use these social media sites. He also added that the top three ways to get into cyberbullying is through these three social media sites. 

In addition, he explained to the students that rules are put into place to keep them safe – “we don’t have to like rules – however we need to respect them”.

2. eTrails

In school, students are introduced to the idea of creating positive digital footprints, which can easily be found online. However, Mr. Davis began to explain to the community what about digital trails. He explained, that digital trails is the stuff you cannot simply just Google. Some of the students seemed very shocked to learn that we all leave digital trails as soon as we go online.

To create a positive digital footprint he suggested to students that instead of using Social Media, to create a blog. “Blogging helps you be creative – you leave positive digital footprints – and it’s a way to post online safely”. With a blog or website, you can create your own domain and everything you post on there belongs to you. He did remind students that if they decided to create a blog, not to post your address or your last name. 

Mr. Davis also recommended “Googling” yourself once in awhile. In the Google search engine, type out in quotations your “Full Name” and then add the city where you live Calgary. 

3. Social Media

During Paul Davis’ presentation to the Elementary Division, his message was simple, no one in the elementary division is currently old enough to have a social media account and so it should be disabled. When addressing the secondary division, Mr. Davis educated the students on the different social media accounts available and how they could be safe online when using such tools.

Social Media Sites that were addressed and some feedback on them:

  • Tumblr, Vine and Yik Yak: all lack security.
  • SnapChat is known as the sexting app. Do not put SnapChat on a Smartphone or a device that has a lot of personal data on it. Snapchat has also lied, saying that photos and video dissappear in 10 seconds from your phone. Unfortunately or fortunately, all the data from Snapchat stays on your phone and is stored as a tmp file, that can be found by plugging your phone onto your computer. In 20 minutes, all Snapchat images can come back alive.
  • Facebook is your life. So keep those settings private and make sure no one has the ability to tag you in a photo without your permission. Also be mindful, that everything you post on Facebook is backed up on a server.
  • Instagram: Your life in photographs. So keep it private! Set up secure settings, have real followers and get rid of the Instagram map.
  • Twitter: Public and can be used to create positive digital footprint for future employees to explore. This tool can be used as an active reflection of who you are.

Remember: There is no assumed right to privacy online. Read all privacy permissions and terms of service before installing apps, especially social media apps, on your mobile device. 

To increase your safety and security when using social media apps respect the following:

  • Get rid of your date of birth, the year you graduated, etc. 
  • Stop saying when you are on vacation in real time.
  • Stop checking in while you’re away.

“Tell the world where you’ve been and what you have done – not where you are and what you are doing."

Remember: “Your accounts are in cyberspace and predators are in cyberspace. If you don’t have Facebook or Instagram, you can’t be found.” 

Predators

Predators use social media to find kids. The most common social media tool used, is Instagram. Mr. Davis shared that it is not even a challenge to find children on Instagram. Please make sure that if your children over 13 years of age use Instagram, that they have their privacy settings to a private account. Also make sure that they are only following people they know in real life. Most predators create fake profiles with a similar age and interest of the children they are scoping out. 

Every hear the expression, “A picture is worth a thousand words”? 

Well, without even realising it, there is a lot of background noises in pictures that help tell a predator a lot about the individuals in the picture. In addition, did you know that when you take a picture with a smartphone, it is “stamped” with geotagging? Using this geotagging information, a predator can find a wide variety of location-specific information of a photo that has been posted online. To increase your safety and security, by doing a quick Google search, you can find out how to turn this function off on your Smartphone and how to remove any geotagging currently on any photos already taken. 

Furthermore, when doing a quick Google search, if you find any images online that you would like removed, you can ask Google to remove photos, by visiting and following the instructions found here: Remove an image from Google

One final recommendation from Mr. Davis about increasing security from hackers and predators was to cover all computer webcams around the house with a Band-Aid. As it is known that some hackers and intruders try to watch individual’s private life and environment through their devices. Mr. Davis also recommends using a band aid rather than tape, as the soft cotton keeps your computers lens protected.

Additional Internet Security

M. Davis introduced the community to the term, Social engineering. This is what hackers use to find out a lot about you online which in turn helps them determine what someone’s password may be. 

Some additional pointers he shared to help increase security:

  • Every hand held device must have a secure password.
  • Do not give your home wifi passwords to any of your friends. Keep it safe for privacy and security.
  • Be mindful when logging into public wifi, public wifi is waiting with malware. (software that is intended to damage or disable computers and computer systems)
  • Never do banking on public wifi

Overall, do not trust public wifi!

Passwords

As early as Grade 3, when students are introduced to Google Apps for Education, CFIS students are introduced to creating a safe and secure password. However, according to Paul Davis, creating a secure password is just not enough. Here are some additional password rules that Mr. Davis mentioned to the CFIS community:

  • Rule 1: Get rid of all the passwords saved in the notes sections of your phone and computer.
  • Rule 2: Use one password per login and write them down in a book. Why? Because a written notebook can never get hacked. 
  • Rule 3: Create a password with 12 characters or more that include an uppercase letter, lowercase letter, number and symbol
  • Rule 4: Parents must have access to all of their grade school children’s passwords for their devices.
  • Rule 5: iPhone users > make your password at least 7 digits long > after 10 failed attempts your phone will erase completely.
  • Rule 6: When out in public, check left and right before typing in your password, to prevent anyone from watching you. 

Cyber-bullying

Mr. Davis shared with the students that there are only three rules to follow if you get contacted by a cyberbully:

  • Never respond to a cyberbully.
  • Make sure to report cyberbullying.
  • Outsmart the bully – apply the 24 hr rule – collect and print out all evidence and then report it by contacting the police. 

The law will protect those being cyberbullied - the day after a child turns 12, they can be charged with cyber bullying.

Remember: Never go from your emotions to your fingertips. Always THINK before you post! Also, once a picture is sent from one device to another – you are never getting it back.

Gaming

During the elementary division presentation, Paul Davis asked students to guess the top two video games being played these days. Two elementary students got the answer right away. These two games are : Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto. Once Mr. Davis he has his answers, he then asked students who owned or played these games, to raise these hands. 

In a very serious tone, Paul Davis shared with the audience, that not only are these the top 2 games that are played, he also shared that these are the top two games that lead to Cyberbullying. In addition, he shared that the minimum age requirement for both of these games was 17 years of age. He advised all the students that had raised their hands to be leaders and to go home and say to their parents that they were not old enough to play these games yet. 

Paul Davis did promote Minecraft as being one of the best games to invest in. He shared that the most secure way to have children play in Minecraft, is to invest in a private server that you can invite your children’s friends to play on. For parents, he recommends setting a daily limit of 20 minutes a day maximum and then have children go outside and play and be a kid.

Benefits of Minecraft: it encourages and motivates learning, improves students motor skills, promotes creativity and develops critical thinking skills.  
Be leaders

One of Mr. Davis’ biggest messages to the CFIS community was about being leaders in digital and online safety. 

To be leaders, he encouraged each group to do the following: 

  • Elementary division students
  • Respect the rules of technology (ie. delete and deactivate all social media accounts and use YouTube for Kids.) 
  • Ask for parent permission before adding an app onto your phone.
  • Get the technology out of your bedroom.

Secondary division students

  • Respect the rules of technology for your age (i.e. Create private social media accounts and think before you post.)
  • Ask for parent permission before adding an app onto your device.
  • No electronics at the dinner table as it is disrespectful.
  • Love care and respect your parents > responsibility is important and your parents have legal responsibility of the device that you use.
  • Be in charge of what the world sees of you on Google.

CFIS Parent Community:

  • Every app has an age restrictions - Respect them!
  • Setup parental controls and permissions on children’s devices and buy an app enabled router to create time restrictions.
  • Request children ask permission before installing an app on their device and disable in-app purchases.
  • Know what your child is doing on their device. Do a spot check and click on all the apps and ask your children what the apps are. Watch out for vault app and ghost apps.
  • Do not allow technology in your children’s bedroom. Remember: your child’s device goes to bed with you, the parent, not with your child.
  • Determine screen free zones in the house and power down hours
  • Turn your child’s device into a safe educational tool
  • Accountability and Responsibility starts at home. As a parent, you own all of your child’s devices and you are responsible for what happens on them so please help guide your children in using their device safely and securely. 
  • The phone you gave your children has been given as a privilege, therefore it being “your phone” put in place rules and guidelines for your children to respect and follow.
  • Promote the use of social media for children when they are the right age and 1) Help them create a private account 2) make sure everyone your child friend or likes, they know them in person 3) Disable any map or location settings 4) Be signed into your children’s social media accounts on your devices.

For more information, contact Mme Alex Lianne Carter.