Tips for parents to monitor children’s online activities

Special to WC Online

OTTAWA – With children forced to spend more time indoors and away from friends, it’s only natural they are also spending more time online.

The Ottawa Police Internet Child Exploitation (ICE) Unit would like to remind parents and guardians of the importance of monitoring children’s online activities.

“With the pandemic, we know that kids are at home with more time on their hands, some of which is spent online,” the Ottawa Police Service (OPS) released in a statement. “Within the last week, our partners in the RCMP and other organizations have notified Police Services across the country of an increase in young person posting images and videos on sites that could unknowingly lead to their exploitation by online predators.”

When the OPS is notified of a situation like this, the Internet Child Exploitation team immediately attempts to identify these children as quickly as possible and to reach out to their parents.

In light of this increase ICE would like to provide a few tips to help monitor kids’ online activities:

  • Don’t underestimate your children’s technical knowledge of the internet and social media sites.
  • If you have limited knowledge of a program/tool they use, ask your kids to show you how it works.
  • Review your kids’ social media “friends” – ask questions like who they are, where they live and how they know them.  If they can’t answer those basic questions, they should be removed from their “friends” list.
  • Ask your kids for their online passwords and do sporadic checks (E-mails, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, etc.)

“Empowering children with knowledge about personal safety and boundaries can help reduce their risk of victimization,” the OPS said. “Research shows that offenders are less likely to target children who present a risk of telling.”

More information on what parents need to be aware of and what parents can do is available online with from the Canadian Centre for Child Protection.

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