(Pixabay photo)

Internet safety while social distancing: expert says monitor internet use

More opportunities for scams, cyber criminals, sexual predators

With more people staying at home to socially distance themselves during the COVID-19 pandemic, one expert is warning others to be internet-smart as the use of computers, tablets and phones increases.

Darren Laur is a former police sergeant and owner of The White Hatter, a company committed to internet and social media safety as well as digital literacy. Laur said he believes the biggest risk when it comes to internet use at the moment is misinformation about COVID-19, as well as the opportunity for people to take advantage of others through scams.

In addition, with more children online, Laur said opportunities for sexual predators could increase if internet use is not monitored by parents and adults.

“Are more kids going online? For sure,” Laur said. “But research has show us even before this pandemic hit … when it comes to kids being targeted online on average one in nine – or 11 per cent – of teens up until the age of 16 are targeted by a sexual predator.”

READ ALSO: RCMP warns of COVID-19 scams spreading through B.C.

Laur said families should engage with kids, understand what they’re doing online and even join them when online. He noted that older generations have a lot to learn for their children, and the variety of online resources has increased, such as activities that have been made available to the public due to COVID-19 by organizations and agencies like NASA or other museums.

He said social media, which has been blamed in the past for social isolation, is exactly what people are using now to stay connected while social distancing.

“This is a real watershed moment for social media, specifically how we use it as a society.”

However, with increased connection comes increased opportunity for those looking to take advantage of others.

A family that owns a small business approached Laur after being hit with cryptoware. Laur said a cyber criminal encrypted the family’s home network, demanding thousands of dollars.

READ ALSO: Abnormal becoming new normal as COVID-19 cases keep rising across Canada

“This small business is already under huge pressure, financially,” Laur said. “Now there’s added pressure where the criminal element online is taking complete advantage of what’s going on.”

He stressed that for those using the internet, safety isn’t about how much time they’re spending, online but rather what they’re doing online. Teaching kids to find a balance between the online and offline world is important as well, stressing that many can still go outside and enjoy nature while social distancing.

“What’s cool is to see how many corporate vendors are coming on board and providing [online] services for free for families to be productive,” Laur said. “If parents can show a little patience, they will be amazed at what’s going on.”

Through The White Hatter, Laur said he has delivered many talks about internet safety and digital literacy in Canada and the U.S., and plans to soon hold a live talk online for free for adults and families. Those interested can stay posted through their Facebook page, facebook.com/whitehatterteam/.

shalu.mehta@blackpress.ca


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

BC Hydro opens applications for COVID-19 Relief Fund to residential customers

Small business owners will be able to apply to the fund next week.

Northern B.C. charity rolling out COVID-19 relief funds soon

United Way of Northern BC say funding requests are outweighing the amount of donations received.

UPDATE: First presumptive case of COVID-19 in Prince Rupert

Doctor says it was a visitor, Northern Health won’t confirm

Northwest mines lengthen crew rotations in response to COVID-19

Northern Health confident precautions sufficient enough to keep work camps open

UPDATE: Canadians awake to extra COVID-19 emergency benefit money, feds clarify changes

The CRA and federal officials are working to clarify the confusion around payments

COVID-19 world update: 6.6 million U.S. jobless claims; alcohol sales banned in Bangkok

Comprehensive digest of coronavirus news items from around the world

B.C. sorting medical equipment sales, donation offers for COVID-19

Supply hub has call out for masks, gowns, coronavirus swabs

B.C. records five more deaths due to COVID-19, 45 new cases

A total of 838 people have recovered from the virus

Major crimes investigating sudden death of North Okanagan child

The 8 year old was flown to Kelowna General Hospital and died hours later

Easter Bunny added to B.C.’s list of essential workers

Premier John Horgan authorizes bunny to spread “eggs-ellent cheer” throughout province

Travellers returning to B.C. must have self-isolation plan or face quarantine: Horgan

Premier John Horgan says forms must be filled out by travellers

More than 400 animals have been adopted amid pandemic: B.C. SPCA

People are taking this time of social distancing to find a loyal companion through the animal welfare group

Most Read