Parents Asked to Ensure Children’s Web Sites are Appropriate

The PEI Department of Education and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police are asking parents to be sure the contents of their children’s personal web sites are appropriate.

RCMP and school officials report that personal web sites are being developed at home by Island youth that contain inappropriate content and information intended to bully other kids.

“Schools are concerned that students are creating sites at home and using them to bully students. This, in turn, is creating problems at school. Parents should talk to their children about Internet use and safety. They should review their children’s personal web sites on a regular basis to ensure they are safe and appropriate,” said Education Minister Mildred Dover.

Constable Don Crozier of the RCMP commercial crime section delivers Internet safety talks to students, teachers and parents each school year. “Parents need to be aware of the content of their child’s personal web site,” he said. “They should review the site with their child to ensure that there is no detailed personal information by which an Internet predator could track the child.” He said full names, addresses, telephone numbers and e-mail addresses should not be on a child’s personal web site. In addition, parents should review photos and links that may appear on the child’s web site, preferably before they are posted.

Philip Connolly, principal at Queen Charlotte Intermediate School said students are using the Internet to target other students in a negative light. Digital cameras and scanners make it easy to get images of people. People are posting these images on web sites, often with false information attached. “This is a very hurtful new form of bullying which enables students to post information about other students anonymously,” said Connolly. “The problem is not originating at school but at home where the sites are being created and information is being passed around by students. It is important to prevent this kind of bullying because once information about a targeted student is out there, the damage has been done whether the information is true or not.”

Darlene McAllister knows how important it is to review the material on her child’s web site. Earlier this year she became aware that her daughter had a personal web site. “It’s great that our children have the knowledge and ability to create web sites,” says Ms. McAllister. And while she was impressed with her daughter’s creativity, she was shocked to learn that her daughter unknowingly had posted personal information that could lead anyone right to her door. “I encourage all parents to take the time and interest to review their children’s web sites. We need to consider whether a person viewing the site could trace the child and put them in harm’s way.”