Rick Cole is a STAY (School Team Advisors for Youth) advisor with Edmonton Catholic Schools and a retired officer with the Edmonton Police Service. He spent a day at St. Augustine School recently teaching students about media and Internet safety.

Managing privacy in an online world

Former police officer speaks to Ponoka’s St. Augustine School on the potential risks of being online

Nothing that’s done over social media is private regardless of the perception, says one school advisor.

Rick Cole is a STAY (School Team Advisors for Youth) advisor with Edmonton Catholic Schools and a retired officer with the Edmonton Police Service. He spent a day at St. Augustine School recently teaching students about media and Internet safety.

“The first thing we talk about is how the Internet works in that nothing we do online is private,” said Cole.

He gave students a sobering perspective of social media and how things done on the Internet are recorded. Part of his presentation was on social media; how it works and how hosting companies get paid.

“About how they sell all of your pictures and all of your words,” said Cole.

While social media use is tough to avoid, Cole advocates awareness of the risks.

“The largest new groups of criminals in Canada are between 12 and 14 (years) committing crimes,” said Cole, adding that those crimes are usually uttering threats and online criminal harassment.

Actions such as continuing unwanted messaging and making threats create problems for kids in school on the delivery and receiving side of the issue. “By the time the police are involved it’s already happened 100 times. They don’t even know that they’ve done it.”

“They (students) need to understand that there’s real-life consequences for that stuff,” said Cole.

On the protection side of things, Cole’s presentation also pointed out the need for security. Geo-tagging oneself in a social media post could result in people becoming a target for a predator.

He suggests that giving out one’s location needs to be done with some forethought.

While there are some challenges and potential dangers, Cole advocates understanding the risks is one way to ensure a safe, yet fun social media experience.

“What I want them to do is learn to manage their history in public so that they’re writing their history in a manner that’s not a detriment to their future,” he said, pointing out that questionable actions online could affect a person’s professional life.

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