Category Archives: Cyber Safety


Helpful (and Funny) Video About Online Safety for Teenagers on the Internet

A bit more of a funny one today, but still with some important messages despite the tongue in cheek nature of the video delivery. Watch this superb video about online safety for teenagers who are using the Internet.

Transcription from Video

Teens today live a huge portion of their lives online. In fact, according to a study from Pew Research Center, 92 percent of teens report going online daily—including 24 percent who say they go online almost constantly.

Why so much online activity? The accessibility of smartphones, of course. Fully 91 percent of teens go online from mobile devices at least occasionally. Among these “mobile teens,” 94 percent go online daily or more often.

That’s a lot of time spent looking at a screen.

Just like you want your teen to stay safe in school and at the mall, you need to be sure they’re being smart about how they handle themselves online.


Online Safety Tips for Children, Parents, and Carers

Tools for parents and caregivers of children

The Lairs youth across Canada are an important source of support for parents and caregivers. Due to the ever increasing requirements of today’s families, we have created for them more tools and resources providing advice and information on the problems that young people face.

Stay Safe Online for Kids

Stay online security is a tip sheet for young people as a static sticky, removable and reusable, which easily adheres to the walls, windows, computers, books, etc. This is a good way to promote safe behavior online. This tool was created with the support of the program Unlimited Potential Microsoft Canada. To order

Internet Safety for parents and guardians. It has information on security problems in Internet and on cyberbullying, practical ways to protect children while they are online and stop cyberbullying, and a list of resources where to learn more . This tool was created with the support of the program Unlimited Potential Microsoft Canada. To order

searsbully.jpgBullying: What you need to know, What you can do is a resource produced with the support of Sears Canada that gives families valuable information to recognize signs of bullying, and, as in those who are victims than among those who are guilty and what to do to counter this problem.

As part of the School Improvement Program In March! JCR, we wrote a pamphlet containing 50 simple and effective tips for parents and others who care for children can help young people better in school. To order

When the bell rings – Parental Resource on extracurricular activities

This resource provides guidance to parents and caregivers so they can choose the extracurricular activity that is best for their


Top Questions From Parents Answered by Dr. Gwenn

Is Facebook really that dangerous?

Dr. Gwenn: Facebook itself isn’t dangerous, but how we use Facebook can put us in some types of danger if we are not cybersavvy. The biggest danger we face on Facebook is risk of harming our own reputations and digital footprints. We can protect ourselves and teach our teens to protect themselves by always following three steps: keep privacy settings set to “Friends Only;” post smartly and cleanly; and “Friend” wisely.

How can I protect my kids from online predators?

Dr. Gwenn: The risk of contact from online predators is not very high at all! To keep it as low as possible, a two-step approach helps. First, participate online with your kids so you know what they are doing online and they know you are there to answer questions. Second, teach your kids the importance of three simple steps to online safety: set (and keep) privacy settings turned “on;” post smartly and cleanly; and only friend people you know offline.

Can my child’s online activities hurt their chances of getting into a good college?

Dr. Gwenn: In today’s culture, “what goes online, stays online.” So if an inappropriate picture of your child or wall post from your child ends up online, that could hurt your child’s reputation and ability for college admission and ability to get even a summer job. For this reason, it’s very important to discuss privacy setting as well as appropriate posts of messages and pictures. Parents should also reinforce the need to “friend wisely” online—and also offline.

Are there warning signs that my kid has been cyberbullied?

Dr. Gwenn: The only sure sign is if you child tells you directly or if you learn of an instance of cyberbullying from another source. Other warning signs may imply that trouble is brewing, including if your kid is avoiding afterschool activities or not wanting to ride the bus or walk home. A change in school performance, anxiety, depression or the development of physical symptoms such as headaches or stomach aches can also be tell-tale signs.

What do I need to teach my children about viruses, spamming and other malware?

Dr. Gwenn: First, make sure you understand it yourself. Second, if your child is old enough to be online, start explaining these important concepts in age-appropriate language and review it a few times a year.

As a parent, what other cyber-situations should I teach my children about?

Dr. Gwenn: It’s very important to emphasize to your kids, at all ages, to never give out personal information online—name, email address, home address, school name, town name. It’s also important to not “friend” people or chat with people you don’t know online. Following these rules minimizes stranger contact online.

How do I address “sexting” with my teen?

Dr. Gwenn: It’s essential that every child old enough to be online and every child with a cell phone understand what “sexting” is and that there are significant legal consequences for taking part in this activity. For suggestions of ways to start this delicate conversation with your tween or teen, I suggest checking out the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Talking to Kids about Social Media and Sexting Tips.

At what age is it appropriate to get my child a cell phone?

Dr. Gwenn: For elementary school kids, the only time to consider a phone is for medical conditions that require a child to reach you or 9-1-1. Older elementary school or younger middle school who walk home should have a cell phone for safety. For older middle school and high school students, the cell phone is one of their social lifelines and is often the “best” time to consider a first phone for most kids.

How young is too young to be going online?

Dr. Gwenn: The best way for children to become digital citizens are to become digitally savvy—and for that to occur they need to learn digital skills young as they do reading, writing and other important life and educationally skills. As children become verbal and develop the manual dexterity to use a mouse or keypad, it’s the optimal time to introduce kids to educational venues online. This will be different for different kids but generally falls in the preschool years: 3-5 years old.

Are online games safe?

Dr. Gwenn: Online games are safe when the games picked are age-appropriate to the user. For kids, the biggest risks posed by online gaming are exposure to inappropriate content and inappropriate contact with other gamers outside their peer group. Parents should partner with their kids to help them make smart game choices.

How can I best monitor my child’s online activities?

Dr. Gwenn: True monitoring of a child’s online activities is hardly ever needed if a family evolves to have a solid family digital home use plan and if parents participate with their kids online.  For kids who push the limits, monitoring programs can help facilitate discussion to help teach kids to be more digitally savvy and smart. In addition, parents can check online logs and cell phone text logs with their children to discuss safe online practices.

How can I keep my child away from inappropriate material on the Internet?

Dr. Gwenn: It’s important to remember two things—kids will not be harmed by stumbling upon inappropriate material online and it’s very important to foster a home atmosphere so your child will inform you if they find something they don’t understand. Usually there is an innocent story behind that type of event—i.e. your kid is searching for a science or biology assignment or searching for information about their favorite celebrity and stumbled upon other content.


Busting the Biggest Digital Myths

cyberspaceText adapted from CyberSafe: Protecting and Empowering Kids in the Digital World of Texting, Gaming and Social Media (American Academy of Pediatrics, October 2010)

The book can be purchased from:


Myth: Social networking is dangerous.

Dr. Gwenn’s Myth Bust: Social networking can be safe and often is, if done thoughtfully, age appropriately, and with a conscious following of stated age limits and privacy rules. Social networking becomes unsafe when parents allow tweens on sites not meant for tweens, such as Facebook or MySpace, and when parents are so uninvolved that young teens do not know how to manage their privacy settings or digital footprint.

Myth: Predators track down kids in real life from their addresses online.

Dr Gwenn’s Myth Bust: Studies have shown that predators are not only not where our kids tend to be online but don’t have the technologic capabilities to find our kids from their online addresses. In fact, our views about how predators use the Internet in general have been found to be myths.

Myth: All online “friending” is dangerous.

Dr Gwenn’s Myth Bust: What we have to emphasize to our kids and teens is that rules of friendship off-line extend to the online world, including the act of friending. The best guideline is to only friend people you know and have a connection with off-line.

Friending only becomes iffy when we add people to our lists who we don’t know well or at all, and when we fail to set our privacy to “friends only” so that only our friends can see our posts, pictures, videos, and comments. In addition to these simple measures, it’s important for digital youth to understand that what goes online, stays online. Kids need to understand not to shoot from the hip with texts and e-mails, and not to write things in e-mails and texts they would not say face-to-face off-line.

Myth: All online discussions with strangers are dangerous.

Dr Gwenn’s Myth Bust: Think about all the strangers we meet each and every day. We chat with and accept help from bank tellers, grocery clerks, police officers, firefighters, department store clerks, and doctors to name a few! By observing our behavior with these people, our children learn that it’s OK to interact with these types of strangers, and when they become more independent they’ll understand how to negotiate these social norms, whether in person, by phone, or online.

So let’s not panic when our kids have the occasional innocent conversation with a peer they don’t know too well. Likely the purpose is innocent, such as homework help, and the contact is someone they actually know, at least by icon, which is no different than our own buddy list! The key is helping our kids understand how to build a safe buddy list, to keep their information private, to not meet their online friends offline, and to help them have appropriate limits with their online time.

Myth: Online games are safe if they use cute cartoon characters.

Dr Gwenn’s Myth Bust: Cute doesn’t mean safe by any stretch of the imagination. The world of gaming is very complex because of the effect of graphics and issues with multiplayer involvement. It’s important to check out all the games your kids are playing.

Ratings and descriptions are useful for this purpose, as well has having your child show you the game he or she is interested in so you can thoroughly check to be sure it’s appropriate for your child’s age and development

Myth: The other kid is the bad guy.
Dr Gwenn’s Myth Bust:
Most adults recognize it takes 2 to tango regardless of who instigates the situation. However, when it comes to their kids, defenses go up immediately and most parents quickly take aim at the other child and family.

Usually I find few parents are interested in the facts and just want to protect their child’s honor. But we have to be willing to recognize that our child isn’t innocent all the time. Where cyber-situations are concerned, your child or teen is as likely as others to be part of the issue, from cyberbullying, to sending inappropriate texts and e-mails, to not handing the receiving of a sext correctly.

The best way for us to help our kids learn from any issue, especially online misunderstandings, is to help our kids be realistic about their own behaviors and to own their role in a situation that doesn’t turn out well. The one exception to this rule is in the case of dangerous, destructive, and illegal situations; these must always be handled quickly and decisively for the safety of those involved.

Myth: Handheld gaming devices don’t connect to the Internet.

Dr Gwenn’s Myth Bust: The vast majority of today’s handheld gaming systems connect to the Internet, most by Wi-Fi. This means that our kids can connect to the ’net and communicate with others by chats set up through the games. Once on the Internet via any channel, our kids have access to the entire World Wide Web!

Myth: Cell phones are fine for young kids.

Dr Gwenn’s Myth Bust: When considering a first cell phone for any child, purpose is essential. Are you considering the phone because every other child has the phone, or is there a greater need such as a medical condition? The cell phone landscape is complicated today by cyberbullying and sexting. If you do not feel your child is old enough to discuss these issues and understand them, your child is not old enough for a cell phone.

Try and match the phone with the needs of your child. You can still get phones that just call, which is very appropriate for younger kids. And there are phones tailored for young kids that you can program with just a few numbers. Keep in mind that most cell phone carriers now have parent control features so you can restrict your child from accessing content and features that the phone may come with, such as the Internet or video and music downloads.

Myth: Everything kids are storing is stored off-line.

Dr Gwenn’s Myth Bust: What happens online, stays online! In fact, material is actually stored online and is called our digital footprint. The management of our digital footprint is the key to all of our online reputations, and mismanagement can ruin lives. There have been many cases of missed opportunities from parents and kids not understanding how to handle one’s digital footprint, including lost jobs and college placement.

Myth: Kids will not use their webcam for any stupid things.

Dr Gwenn’s Myth Bust: The same conditions that lead teens to pose nude cause them to do dumb things with webcams. If you saw the movie American Pie, that’s not a  Hollywood fictional situation but truly art imitating life!

Myth: The reason kids use headsets and microphones when playing games is to listen to game sound effects without disturbing the family.

Dr Gwenn’s Myth Bust: The best way to learn what your kids are listening to is to listen with them! You’ll be surprised by the lyrics of songs and phrases in games. Many times when kids look like they are “listening” to a game, they have a very different soundtrack running, so pop an earbud in once in a while.

Myth: Xbox is a game device.

Dr Gwenn’s Myth Bust: Xbox is a game device, but that’s just the tip of the high-tech iceberg! If you tease out all the features, Xbox, PlayStation 3, and Wii are multimedia entertainment units that can run everything from games to DVDs to music. And with the convergence of content into devices, future devices will likely have many more applications than today’s “game” and digital devices.