When I started blogging in 2006, the blog was just an online journal for me to keep in touch with friends, family, and students after I moved to Manitoulin Island. Back then, I had no idea that people around the world could read the content on my blog. I thought it was just a great way to keep loved ones updated without having to send out mass e-mails. I didn’t start blogging seriously until 2008 though.
Comments started coming from people not just in Canada, but in the United States and all over the globe. When I got pregnant and was on strict bed rest for my high risk pregnancy, online friends were there supporting me. When Little One arrived early (at 28 weeks gestation) and we spend the first 72 days of her life in the NICU, people from around the world were there each day, showing us some love and support.
I was a little shocked and decided to make everything anonymous. I used nicknames for family members and friends, covered up faces to preserve the identity of the young, and didn’t even disclose which island I lived on. I just said “The Island, Canada”.
Fast forward a few years and now my name and the island I live on is no longer kept a secret. I still refer to my daughter as “Little One” on the blog, and my husband is always referred to as “Hubby” online. The truth is, thought a lot of aspects of our lives are public because of the blog, I still try to preserve some kind of boundaries. Now that Little One is getting older and is exposed to social media and the internet more, online security is paramount.
Now that Little One will be turning 5 years old next month, she does get to play on the iPod or on the tablet sometimes. I’m always scared that she’s going to click on an ad or on something that she shouldn’t. These things really concern me. I was a little shocked and horrified when I saw that my 4 year old “liked”/gave the “thumbs up” on some YouTube videos she was watching (they were just cartoons, DIY and cooking videos). Because I was logged into my Google account, it showed that I had liked them. The only reason I found out was because it populated to my Twitter feed!
Another incident was when Little One was in the hospital in May.I let her play on the iPod because she loves the Cupcake Maker app. All of a sudden, friends were leaving funny comments on my Facebook and when I checked, Little One had POSTED her cupcake creations on my Facebook wall! I had tons and tons of cupcake creations all over my wall and friends thought it was the funniest thing ever. THAT was the moment I realized we needed to be more careful.
If my 4 year old is able to do that while I was sitting right beside her, then what else is she capable of? Immediately, a knot in my stomach developed as I thought of her online security, what can be shared, what she can be exposed to, and all the other threats out there in the digital world.
As a loyal TELUS customer since 2000, I am excited about all the initiatives TELUS puts forward. This one in particular is very appealing to me.
TELUS is launching TELUS WISE
TELUS WISE (Wise Internet and Smartphone Education), a unique program available to Canadians for free, offering seminars and online resources that will help keep all members of Canadian families safer online. Whether it’s protecting children from cyberbullying and sexual exploitation or keeping elderly safe from financial fraud and identity theft, developing more online-savvy is critical to a family’s overall safety when using the Internet on computers, tablets and smartphones alike.
TELUS WISE and TELUS WISE footprint content has been developed in partnership with accredited organizations like MediaSmarts and Bullying.org to address the critical need for timely, informative and relevant information given the steady growth of smartphone adoption and Internet use, particularly with children and teens.
“Our belief is that children and youth need critical thinking skills to engage with media as active and informed digital citizens,” said Jane Tallim, co-executive director, MediaSmarts.ca. “With the proliferation of the Internet and smartphones, it is critical that socially conscious companies like TELUS offer impactful new programs to keep our children safer online and we’re pleased to be a partner in the roll out of TELUS WISE to millions of families across the country in an effort to educate them about smarter online choices.”
TELUS WISE and WISE footprint programs have also been recognized and awarded the PTPA Winner’s Seal of Approval. Here’s what PTPA CEO & Founder, Sharon Vinderine has to say about TELUS WISE:
“PTPA Media is proud to announce that TELUS WISE is a recipient the PTPA Media seal of approval. This award recognizes TELUS’ efforts to educate Canadian families on the dangers that exist online and to raise awareness of the online footprint smart-device users leave behind. We at PTPA Media take great measures to protect our family online, and feel it is extremely important that others do the same. Understanding how to make smarter choices about the information you share online and how these choices impact your online safety, is the goal of the Telus WISE initiative. It is this initiative that makes TELUS stand out from its competition.”
I am so excited that TODAY TELUS is finally officially launching TELUS WISE! It’s a free program available for all Canadians so their families, young and old, can develop safer online habits. The program consists of two parts – TELUS WISE for adults and TELUS WISE footprint for children and youth aged 8-18.
With new smartphone apps that launch daily and the number of online social media platforms continues to grow, unfortunately this means there are a greater number of channels exposing families to online exploitation such as sexual predators, cyberbullying and even financial fraud. TELUS created TELUS WISE — an easy-to-use program that offers free in-person seminars across the country, 1:1 Learning Centre sessions at 200 TELUS locations and provides a vast library of online resources to educate Canadians about online threats and help stop problems before they happen.
TELUS WISE footprint is a secure portal specifically for kids aged 8-18 called– kids can log in to create avatars and learn about how to be a good digital citizen by keeping their footprint clean. It’s a great interactive tool that explains online threats in a way kids understand – with cartoons!
I know, I know. My daughter is only 4 years old. Actually, 5 next month! It’s never too early to be “safe” online. Let’s face it – the internet will be a huge part of Little One’s life and many kids are getting exposed to the world of the internet through games and educational apps and websites. If this is going to be a part of Little One’s life, I’m going to make sure to protect my family from online threats and stop problems before they happen.