Halton Hills and North Halton newspapers
Cyberproofing 101
Independent & Free Press (Georgetown, ON), 16 Aug 2006, p. 6

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Cyberproofing 101

The recent arrest of a Kingston man on charges on Internet luring, child pornography and extortion is a stark reminder to parents that cyberspace is no place for children to play alone. Parents who believe their child couldn't possibly be harmed at home in front of the family computer are both naive and playing with fire. On an almost daily basis come reports of adults being caught befriending minors online-- often pretending to be harmless Internet buddies of roughly the same age as their young victims. These web predators often invest a significant amount of time gaining the trust of their underage victims, before proposing face-to-face encounters. Of course it's not realistic to expect parents to be aware of every moment their child spends online. So what's a busy mom or dad to do? A Government of Canada website (www.ourmissingchildren.gc.ca/omc/publications/internet-luringleurre_e.htm) offers plenty of sound advice including: · Be informed-- Take lessons and learn the Internet yourself. Set up a parent support group and learn from each other. Talk to computer sales clerks to determine which software packages are available to safeguard your child; · Be smart-- Set house rules for Internet use. Have your child use a code name while online and change passwords frequently. Always maintain access to your child's online accounts and regularly and randomly check the e-mail messages. Always position the computer in a high-traffic area where you can occasionally monitor activity. Advise your child to never provide strangers with personal information. · Be Alert-- Watch for signs of behaviour change in your child such as withdrawal from conversation regarding Internet activities, attempts to be secretive, noticeable signs of embarrassment when asked certain questions about online activities and the use of language uncharacteristic of the child's age group. While it may be tempting for overwhelmed parents to view home computers as a more educational version of a television babysitter, allowing children to go surfing, chatting or blogging without any supervision or guidelines is risky business.

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16 Aug 2006
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Cyberproofing 101