Creating a Positive Digital Footprint
Darren Laur “White hat” sharing safety and security tips with Prince George parents – photo250News
Prince George, B.C.- It was one of the largest audiences Darren Laur has experienced, “It shows me you care about your kids”.
Laur, a former Staff Sergeant with Victoria Police, was addressing a gathering at Vanier Hall last night, giving parents tips on how to keep their kids safe on the internet. He is considered a “White Hat” one who gathers information on the web for the purpose of education. Black Hats on the other hand are all about using the web for all the wrong reasons.
“Internet and social media are the coolest thing ever” said Laur as he launched into a two hour presentation that was marked with humour and plenty of examples of how the ability to instantly connect with anyone in the world can be both beneficial, and extremely harmful, especially to those who don’t realize that when it comes to the internet and social media, there is no privacy. He said he and his wife have assisted 117 young people who were depressed and suicidal having been victims of cyber bullying which he prefers to call “peer aggression”.
One of the biggest mistake anyone can make is to have too much information available on their social media pages ( such as facebook), and detailed how , through accessing photos and information on a young woman’s page, he was able to locate her in just 15 minutes. “Everything on the net is public, permanent, searchable, exploitable and for sale” said Laur.
That information can lead to a number of crimes, including identity theft, or access to your home when you aren’t there.
He pressed the point that texts and images sent or posted today, could well come back to haunt young people as they try to go to University, get a job or even a bank loan, as the internet has become a “digital dossier”.
Clipping after clipping appeared on a screen behind him, news stories of promising young people who were denied or rejected for scholarships or jobs because of the messages and images they had posted in the years before their applications had been submitted.
He advised parents to “learn the language” of the net, and to not be afraid to install software on a smart phone or computer that is capable of letting parents know which sites their children have been visiting and to watch for signs that would indicate the kids are visiting sites, or sending texts which they shouldn’t be. “If they turn off the computer when you enter the room, or don’t want to show you the last 10 texts they sent, that should be a red flag”.
He encouraged parents to get the computer or smart phone out of the bedroom, as teens are likely to be texting or on the net till well past midnight which interferes with healthy sleep. He also advised parents get their children to teach them about the net, set aside one night a week to have a “digital dinner” where parents and kids can share information about new apps, or sites and communicate that family values carry over to the digital world.
Having a smart phone is not a right said Laur, it is a privilege, and parents, ( as holders of the contract for those under 19) are entitled to know how that social tool is being used. He urged parents to ensure passwords are changed every six months “Treat your passwords as if they were a toothbrush or underwear. They need to be changed, but never shared.”