President & CEO, Canada Safety Council
Manager, National Projects, Canada Safety Council
COVID-19 has radically changed how children across Canada are learning. Given the rise of the virtual classroom, the Canada Safety Council is committed to helping Canadian families keep their children safe.
The advent of virtual classrooms, while effective in mitigating exposure to COVID-19 during this pandemic, serves to blur the line between a child’s online and offline world in a way that has never been experienced.
“While growing up in today’s world means some exposure to online risk factors,” says Gareth Jones, President and CEO of the Canada Safety Council. “Our need to pivot to an online-first method of delivery in many education systems shines a bright light on the risks associated with the online experience.”
As part of the learning process, children are being given access to tools that require logging in using a username and password. This information should be guarded very closely and is not to be shared with anyone. At a time where so many are reliant on online access, cyber-criminals are very aware of this fact and unsecured accounts make for easy targets.
To share links to resources, documents, and downloads, e-mail is frequently the method of choice. It’s important to look at where a link is taking you before clicking. Does the tracking information that shows up when you hover over the link match up with the URL address, you’re being told? If not, be wary — this could be a spoofed login page or a phishing attempt. Carelessness can creep into your habits in a hurry, and that’s exactly the kind of habit being preyed upon by cybercriminals.
Make sure your children understand that these should not serve as windows into their whole lives and that some information should not be given out online — even to friends.
Social aspects of the education system are important, which is why teachers across Canada are doing what they can to foster positive relationships between their students. However, the Internet can also become a major liability if cyberbullying enters the equation. Parents should be vigilant in ensuring their child is not being victimized. The Canada Safety Council offers an online course on cyberbullying, outlining actions that can be taken to mitigate the threat.=
In the context of online learning, voice and type chat continue to be the main vehicles being used. Make sure your children understand that these should not serve as windows into their whole lives and that some information should not be given out online — even to friends.
Online learning is a new phenomenon in the lives of many Canadians. It’s only through patience, empathy, understanding and willingness to work together that we’ll generate as positive an experience as possible for young learners across the country.