Smoky River Express
There is a day for everything and like everything else in life, some days are more deserving than others.
Sometimes also, while the issue celebrated may be worthy, having a day designated to it may be unnecessary .
February 9th is designated International Safer Internet Day to encourage safer and more prudent use of the internet especially where young people are concerned.
The chosen theme for 2016, is “Play your part for a better internet,” a phrase that echoes from a profound lack of imagination and the lethargy of preaching to the converted.
It is important to make children alert to the dangers of predatory and exploitive entities online and make them aware of their own imprudent, hurtful or antisocial behaviour.
Of course, the most reliable safeguard to a child’s wellbeing is parents being alert to the behaviour of their children. While children may “live online”, they also live at home.
No child under the age of 16 ought to have exclusive passwords of which parents are not aware. That is equivalent to sending a child out into the unknown without any supervision or having them arrive home with parents having no idea where they have been.
Without being overbearing and depending on the child’s age, allowing him or her some level of autonomy, the parent, at the first sign of alarm can trace where their child goes online, with whom they are interacting and the kind of conversations they are engaging in. Essentially just traditional parental supervision.
This typically worked before the advent of texting and the internet and I am confident that it is still works.
The Ontario Provincial Police also got in the game for International Safer Internet Day, encouraging people to apply the T.H.I.N.K. test before posting or sending a cyber message or photograph.
The T.H.I.N.K. test recommends that people ask themselves if the post or message they are about to send is true, hurtful, illegal, necessary or kind?
I know that people will bend logic and reason to create a clever acronym but often, as in the OPP’s case, it comes off sounding glib and superficial.
In order to comply with its acronym the T.H.I.N.K. test asks if something is hurtful and three questions later asking if it is kind.
This process is blatantly redundant, as is asking if the post is necessary. With texting and online chat the true answer will usually be, of course it is not necessary.
At one time, reducing the process of thinking to an acronym was unthinkable.
Thinking was an infinitely broad term and we were encouraged to do it all the time, not just with certain endeavours or at particular times of the day.
One should hope that thinking is still a process that goes on all the time and is still rigorously applied to all aspects of life.
As with the process of thinking, so it is with the moral and ethical codes we were encouraged to observe. I believe these dictates continue to be viable regardless of technological advances.
The cornerstone of having character, of being a viable individual and a good citizen was to respect yourself and show respect to others, to be courageous, honest and kind.
Those same virtues still apply and are still reliable in preparing children to be good individuals and good citizens whether they are on or off-line.