The Internet has become a community for young people, and this community comes with its own unique set of rules, behaviours and potential risks. Kids are exposed to so much online, and they are discovering different and exciting opportunities to learn about themselves and the greater world in which they live. Sometimes, these online experiences may lead to negative and dangerous situations before the user even realizes what’s happening.As an educator, you may observe students accessing Internet sites or participating in online communications that could put them at risk of providing too much personal information.
In late 2007 and early 2008, Kids Help Phone posted a survey on their website (kidshelpphone.ca and jeunessejecoute.ca), which asked 20 questions about safety in online relationships. Almost 2,250 respondents provided answers anonymously. These responses were compiled for the Kids Help Phone Safety in Online Relationships report.
According to this report, the majority of youth who responded to the survey said they were aware of what they should and shouldn’t do to remain safe online, yet many said they have put themselves at risk online.
Some Online Safety Issues Revealed
• Over 16% of respondents said they were comfortable confiding with someone online after chatting or emailing five time or less.
• 27% said they had an Internet relationship that they kept secret from their friends.
• 28% said they had never discussed how to stay safe when using the Internet with their parents/ guardians.
To access a full copy of Kids Help Phone’s Safety in Online Relationships and to read more information about cyber safety tips for students, visit kidshelpphone.ca.
About Kids Help Phone
Kids Help Phone is Canada’s only free, 24-hour, bilingual and anonymous phone and online counselling, referral and information service for children and youth. In 2007, Kids Help Phone touched the lives of children and youth in need from almost 3,000 Canadian communities more than two million times through its phone and online services.
Every day, Kids Help Phone’s professional counsellors connect with youth by phone and online about a wide variety of issues—from relationships, parental divorce and stress to cyberbullying, abuse and suicide. When young people reach out for help, Kids Help Phone provides counselling, support and, when appropriate, referrals to local organizations (counsellors have access to a database of over 37,000 community listings from across Canada).
Established in 1989, Kids Help Phone is recognized internationally as a leader in the delivery of phone and online counselling to kids. This charity employs more than 100 highly skilled counsellors and benefits from the support of more than 10,000 fundraising volunteers in over 50 communities from coast to coast, and the commitment of a growing number of leading Canadian companies and their employees.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Virginia Middleton is the Public Relations Coordinator for Kids Help Phone.
This article is from Canadian Teacher Magazine’s January 2009 issue.