(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

Social media a blessing and a curse during time of crisis: B.C. communication expert

‘In moments of crisis, fear is very real and palpable,’ says SFU’s Peter Chow-White

Firefighters put out structure fire on Dockside Way in Nanaimo

Incident happened just after 5 p.m. in detached building close to house

Nanaimo sheep farmer voices fears over flung dog feces

Deborah Wytinck worries parasites in dog feces tossed into pasture could infect her sheep

UPDATE: Nanaimo RCMP now unsure what vehicle missing teen and man may be travelling in

Mary Cyprich, 17, missing since Thurday, believed to be in company of Force Forsythe, 36

Nanaimo school district to develop learning plan to account for COVID-19

Nanaimo-Ladysmith school district superintendent advises parents keep kids at home

Nanaimo doctors asking for donations of masks and gloves during COVID-19 fight

Nanaimo Division of Family Practice co-ordinating efforts to collect supplies

Evening world update: U.S. restrictions extended 30 days; NY deaths near 1,000

Comprehensive world update, with the latest developments in the COVID-19 crisis

‘It’s up to us: Recently-returned B.C. couple urges Canadians to take COVID-19 seriously

Garrett Kucher and Tory Apostoliuk make it home after almost a week of lockdown in Spain

‘Nothing concrete’: Tenants, landlords lack details after B.C. unveils COVID-19 rental aid

Single mom in Golden says she’s already going to the food bank after being laid off

Canada will make sure masks sent by China meet quality standards: Trudeau

Chinese Embassy tweeted that China was sending 30,000 medical masks along with gowns, gloves and goggles

B.C. issues guidelines about distancing, reusable bags to grocery stores amid COVID-19

Hand sanitizer and markers to keep lines two metres are apart are needed, province says

No plans to call in military right now to enforce COVID-19 quarantine: Trudeau

Trudeau unveils $7.5M for Kids Help Phone, $9M for vulnerable seniors amid COVID-19

B.C. is seeing the highest rate of COVID-19 recovery in Canada, and there’s a few reasons why

British Columbia was one of the first to see rise in COVID-19 cases, and has also switched up testing

Most Read