(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

Interior Health officials outline pandemic response in virtual town hall

Kelowna-Lake County MLA Norm Letnick moderates digital discussion, Q&A with Interior Health leadership

B.C. COVID-19 contact restrictions working, Dr. Bonnie Henry says

’Not out of the woods yet’ as next two weeks are critical

Interior Health issues alert following confirmed COVID-19 case on WestJet flight

The public exposure alert comes following the March 21 WestJet flight from Calgary to Kamloops

Some big city shoppers heading to small towns to stock up

With the cupboard bare in many large centres, shoppers are flocking to places like Ashcroft

Bail granted to man charged in killing at Cache Creek home

Corey Harkness, 32, is charged with one count of second-degree murder

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

Sewers stitch masks to free up supplies for front-line health-care workers

“We have little old ladies sewing up a storm,” said Joan Davis

Experts weigh in on best handling of groceries during COVID-19 pandemic

Study suggests the virus can live for up to 24 hours on cardboard and up to three days on plastic

COVID-19 world update: Enforceable quarantine in NYC?; France orders 1 billion masks

Spain warns EU’s future at stake; New York governor calls Trump’s idea ‘federal declaration of war

‘Community is amazing’: Williams Lake woman organizes drive-by birthdays

With self-isolation the norm due to COVID-19 children are missing out

Earth Hour 2020 kicks off online Saturday night

Action moves online due to COVID-19

B.C. COVID-19 cases rise 92 to 884, one more death, 81 in care

Outbreak action underway in 12 long-term care homes

B.C. veterinarians want to smooth the fur of COVID-19-worried pet owners

Vets expect to continue giving your fur buddies the help they need while social distancing

B.C. VIEWS: Small businesses need our help

Just as integral in neighbourhoods in Vancouver and Surrey as they are in Prince George or Kelowna

Most Read