New tools remind young internet users to protect privacy

Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart unveiled three new tools Tuesday to help young internet users protect their privacy online.

Despite their media savvy, many Canadian teenagers do not fully understand the risks of revealing personal information online, Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart said Tuesday.

Stoddart spoke to Gr. 7 and 8 students at Hopewell Avenue Public School in Ottawa Tuesday and introduced three new tools to help young internet users protect their privacy online.

"Canadian kids use the internet and online tools effortlessly, at a very young age, and many kids are way ahead of adults in adapting to new technology," Stoddart said in the release.

"Unfortunately, while they are incredibly adept when it comes to surfing, texting, posting and chatting online, they don't always take time to consider the privacy pitfalls these new technologies pose."

"We need to start talking to them about online privacy at an early age and encourage them to think carefully about the personal information they are sharing online," the release said.

The tools from the Privacy Commmissioner's Office include a five-minute video, an educational presentation for teachers' use and a tipsheet for parents. All three resources provide information for teaching young people how to protect their information online.

The tools are designed to help educate young people about how to protect themselves from predators, keep their personal information safe and clean up their online images.

The video offers advice for young teens, urging them to protect their passwords, adjust their privacy settings, never disclose their locations and to "only write, text, or post things that you'd want anyone, anywhere to see."

The tipsheet suggests that parents "try out" new internet tools themselves, adding that the only way to really understand the nature of social networking and sharing sites is to try it firsthand.

The educational presentation package is the second presentation created by the Privacy Commissioner's Office to educate teens about online privacy issues. The first was geared toward high school students.

Tuesday's event is part of a week-long campaign leading up to Data Privacy Day on Jan. 28. Data Privacy Day is an annual awareness day the Privacy Commissioner's Office established to educate Canadians about issues surrounding online privacy.