Dawn Windsor is hoping to help computer users of all ages be safe online.
The Transcona resident has been holding Internet safety classes for adults since November, and is set to launch programming for children this spring. That includes a spring break course, slated from March 31 to April 4, where children spend a week offline.
Windsor is a digital trainer by trade, and after teaching so many adults how to use their computers at work, realized they might not be setting up their home computer for optimum safety.
"With our kids, they’re online 90% of the day," Windsor said. "My kids are seven and nine, and they’re using the Internet daily in school. Schools have great safeguards and things like that, but what happens when they’re at home?
"If you’re having trouble with your computer at work, chances are, you’re having trouble with your computer at home. And chances are, you’re going to be a parent."
For parents, Windsor offers a variety of classes detailing topics such as basic Internet safety, texting lingo, social media use, preventing identity theft, and spotting online predators.
Windsor feels the latter course is of the utmost importance to parents.
"That is one of the hottest topics that I have because it’s such a scary one," she said. "Everybody is interested in it, and they want to learn how to guard against it."
While it’s key to inform parents how to protect their kids online, it’s also critical to go straight to the source to give children the tools to protect themselves in cyberspace. During the kids’ class on "cyber-strangers vs. trusted adults," Windsor makes parents attend alongside their children.
"There’s no sense in teaching something (on that topic) to the kids if the parents aren’t going to know what’s going on," she said.
During the kids’ classes, topics range from safe texting to discussing what type of content is "TMI" (too much information) to cyberbullying. These topics will be covered during the spring break "I Survived A Week Offline" sessions.
"The kids are going to come in for an entire week of day camp and we’re going to do what kids should be doing, which is playing outside, having fun, doing things without the Internet," she said, noting there will be an approximately one hour of theory sessions each day. "It’s not a Wi-Fi-friendly week.
"There’s no gaming, no texting, no phones."
Over the course of the week, camp attendees will create their own list of Internet safety guidelines complete with a list of people and organizations they can contact for help if they need it.
Windsor said the only ones with cell phones will be camp leaders and herself, just in case of an emergency.
For more information on any or all of the programming, visit www.DoYouKnowWhatYourKidsKnow.ca, email info@ DoYouKnowWhatYourKidsKnow.ca, or call 204-792-0329.
Classes for seniors are also offered.
Windsor also offers Teaching Others Digital Defense (TODD) courses on cyberbullying and Internet safety in conjunction with the Amanda Todd Legacy Society, which was created in honour of the Vancouver-area teenager who committed suicide in 2012 after being subjected to online bullying. There will be a TODD course held on March 8 for YMCA-YWCA members at the Elmwood-Kildonan location at 454 Kimberly Ave. The session will take place from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.