Safer Internet Day (SID) happened this week on February 7th. SID is an annual event launched in 2004 by the European Commission’s Safer Internet Program and speaks to school assemblies and major conferences around the world. This year’s theme was simple and powerful: “Discover the digital world together… safely.” Their mission is to promote safer and more responsible technology use. They emphasize the need to keep young people safe when they’re connecting to the digital world.
Just two days later, a story of Internet safety emerged. A father in New Orleans helped to put a Facebook predator behind bars by using responsible online tactics. After discovering that his daughter had received unsolicited messages from the 47-year-old man, he took to the Internet to learn more. What he found was shocking. Not only did the man have a criminal record but there was a public warning issued about him in 2010. He was out on parole and he was considered to be a risk to women. Police in Victoria, BC quickly made the arrest.
The take-home message is clear. It’s important for children to talk to their parents about their Internet activities, particularly if they feel uncomfortable or threatened. Open communication is what brought this problem to the surface. And if you or your family are victimized or threatened online, you can do something about it. Don’t hesitate to contact your local authorities. The Internet is lurking with so many dangers from cyber bullying to cyber predators. Let’s all do our part to make the Internet a safer place.