(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

Just Posted

A 1900s writing box found in Greater Victoria contained ink, photos and a letter addressed to Clara McCaubry dated October 14, 1898. (Photo courtesy Suzanne Hervieux)
Mysterious 1900s writing box finds a home among Saanich Archives

Wooden chest owned by early Saanich resident Clara Isabelle McCaubry

For Owen Bains, having autism makes navigating the rules and social norms around COVID-19 challenging, says his mother. (Courtesy Nicole Zimmel)
Pandemic poses serious problems for children with autism, say Victoria parents

Parents of children with autism say COVID-19 is overwhelming and reducing social skills

Halloween candies ready for trick-or-treaters. (Philip Wolf photo)
PQBeat: Ghouls, goblins, candy, costumes, COVID-19 restrictions and all things Halloween

Podcast: 2020 version of the spooky night promises to be much different

The Salish Eagle sails towards Powell River from Comox in the summer of 2019 (John McKinley file)
Editorial: Time to reinstate below-decks as above board in BC Ferries

Ban on people staying on the car deck defies logic in a time of COVID-19

A sentencing hearing began for Joel Conway who was convicted of break and enter and sexual assault last year. (Kendra Crighton/News Staff)
Saanich man sentenced to three years in prison for breaking into woman’s home and sexually assaulting her

Crown is asking Joel Conway be sentenced to four years for both charges, to be served concurrent

Over the years, Janice Blackie-Goodine’s home in Summerland has featured elaborate Halloween displays and decorations each October. (File photo)
QUIZ: How much do you really know about Halloween?

Oct. 31 is a night of frights. How much do you know about Halloween customs and traditions?

FILE - In this Jan. 23, 1987 file photo, actor Sean Connery holds a rose in his hand as he talks about his new movie “The Name of the Rose” at a news conference in London. Scottish actor Sean Connery, considered by many to have been the best James Bond, has died aged 90, according to an announcement from his family. (AP Photo/Gerald Penny, File)
Actor Sean Connery, the ‘original’ James Bond, dies at 90

Oscar-winner was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2000

Kuterra’s smolts will come from Cermaq hatcheries. (Whole Oceans image)
Cermaq to supply salmon smolts to land-based farm Kuterra

Emergent Holdings, which operates Kuterra, and Cermaq signed a four-year agreement

Megan Dunn, Sonja Zupanec and Sue Dunn (from left) created floral headpieces as part of a fundraiser for the People for a Healthy Community on Gabriola Society food bank. (Photo courtesy Jeanette Martin)
Gabriolans support island food bank with floral hat fundraiser

Gabriola Flower Heads aim to raise $4,000 for those in need

There are now plans to reduce scaled of a proposed Ballenas running track upgrade. (PQB News file photo)
Parksville Qualicum Beach running track project plans reduced in scale

Track group to switch to community grassroots level due to lack of support from regional district

Bruce McLean, 91, has published his first novel, The Manana Treehouse, which is inspired by his wife’s experience with Alzheimer’s. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
91-year-old Saanich man publishes first novel based on wife’s Alzheimer’s experience

Former journalist Bruce McLean ‘on cloud nine’ after making fiction debut

This house at 414 Royal Ave. became notorious for its residents’ and visitors’ penchant for attracting police. It was also the site of a gruesome torture in August 2018. It was demolished in 2019. KTW
6-year sentence for Kamloops man who helped carve ‘rat’ into flesh of fellow gang member

Ricky Dennis was one of three men involved in the August 2018 attack

Cpl. Nathan Berze, media officer for the Mission RCMP, giving an update on the investigation at 11:30 a.m., Oct. 30. Patrick Penner photo.
VIDEO: Prisoner convicted of first-degree murder still at large from Mission Institution

When 10 p.m. count was conducted, staff discovered Roderick Muchikekwanape had disappeared

Among the pumpkin carvings created this year by Rick Chong of Abbotsford is this tribute to fallen officer Cont. Allan Young.
Abbotsford pumpkin carver’s creations include fallen police officer

Rick Chong carves and displays 30 pumpkins every year

Most Read