Internet Safety Tips For You and Your Family

With Safer Internet Day on February 11th, and Pink Shirt (Anti-Bullying Day) on February 26th, this is the perfect month to address the topic of internet safety.

This year’s theme for Safer Internet Day is “Together for a better internet” and is a call to action for individuals and organizations around the globe to consider how they can make the internet a kind, safer place for kids and teens. It’s also the perfect day to talk to kids about internet safety, and simultaneously consider ways to protect yourself online.

From inappropriate content, to cyberbullying, to impersonation, and sextortion, it can be overwhelming to think about all the online threats, and how to protect your kids from them. Whether you have young children just starting out on the internet, or teenagers who, let’s face it, are possibly more internet-savvy than you are, it can be difficult knowing exactly what risks to warn your kids about and which ones they’re most at risk from. ProtectKidsOnline.ca provides a breakdown of online risks for different age groups from 5 – 15, and what can be done to help prevent them. Parents, caregivers, and teachers can also sign up to be alerted to emerging issues and be provided with resources to know how to deal with them.

The Better Internet for Kids site is full of helpful tips for the concerned caregiver. Their online guide provides up-to-date information about some of the most popular apps and social networking platforms. This is a fantastic resource if you want to understand what your teenage son means when he says he’s talking to someone on Discord while live-streaming on Mixer, or when your eight year old asks to sign up for Club Penguin. The guide provides details about privacy policies, minimum age requirements, in-app purchases and more, to help you understand the possible dangers that might come with their use. Consider downloading some of these apps for your own device so you can see what they’re all about. It will give you a better starting place from which to have a conversation about them with your kids.

Better Internet for Kids also provides suggestions for how to talk with children about what content is appropriate for them to share online and with whom, and how to talk to them about their online activity and concepts such as identity theft.

The truth is, while we all need to work to make the internet safer for kids, children and teenagers are not the only vulnerable internet users. Adults and elderly parents can also fall victim to extortion and online scams. The Better Internet for Kids portal encourages parents to talk with kids about creating strong passwords and being wary of suspicious emails; important strategies for adults to know and discuss with elderly parents also. And there is a timely warning for parents about consent: consent laws have ramped up in the past few years and yet parents rarely consider obtaining consent from their children when it comes to posting pictures and information about them online. A recent study by Microsoft found that 42% of teenagers questioned in 25 countries reported that they had a problem with their parents sharing pictures of them online. Something to think about.

Cyberbullying

Knowing what your kids are doing online, what apps they’re using, and being confident that they have strong passwords and a good understanding of privacy protection, is only one half of the equation though. Cyberbullying is a real psychological threat to teenagers today and even the safest internet user is not immune.

The Government of Canada website describes Cyberbullying as “the use of email, cell phones, text messages, Internet sites and chat rooms to physically threaten, verbally harass or socially exclude an individual or group. Social media technologies often allow bullies to remain anonymous while distributing damaging messages/pictures to a widespread audience.”

The first step is to give kids tools to know how to handle online bullying. ProtectKidsOnline.ca advises that if you receive a nasty message, don’t respond to it, don’t delete it, show it to someone you trust, block the person, and report them (most social media platforms have mechanisms for reporting bullying behaviours). Again, while this information is intended for children, the truth is, anyone who posts anything online opens themselves up to possible attack. The internet combines the ability to converse with people you’ll never meet in real life with relative (and sometimes literal) anonymity, making people bolder and frequently more willing to engage in heated discussions in a way they never would in person. Many people share stories and snippets of their lives on social media platforms and there are always individuals who see this sharing as an invitation for them to respond and pass judgement. The advice given to teenagers: don’t engage, don’t delete, report it, and talk to someone you trust, is applicable for adults as well. Staying safe on the internet doesn’t just mean password and privacy protection; it’s important to protect your self-esteem and state of mind as well.

Recognizing signs of cyberbullying is almost more important than teaching kids how to protect themselves against it. The negative psychological effects of bullying can stay with children their entire lives, and if you suspect that your child is a victim you should act quickly. This article provides some helpful insights into recognizing the signs and it’s necessary for any adult who works with or spends time with children to be aware of them.

Having your child spend time on the internet can feel a little like sending them out to cross a busy street on their own. But just as we teach kids road safety, internet safety can and should be taught. This February 11th, don’t let the opportunity to discuss online safety with your child pass you by. Check out some of the resources we’ve provided links to in this post; all of them provide helpful information plus links to much more. Arming yourself and your child with this knowledge is a great start to making the internet a safer place for them to explore.

Additional Resources:

For more tips on how to handle cyberbullying check out this article.

For more information on how to protect children online, check out the Canadian Centre for Child Protection site.

 

 

Do You Have a Winter Emergency Kit?

With many places in Canada experiencing snow, freezing rain, wind, and fog this past weekend, this seems the right time to review how best to be prepared for winter in Canada at its absolute worst. A winter emergency kit will enable you to stay warm inside until it’s safe to venture out again.

Granted, it’s rare that we have days and days without power, snowed in with no way to make contact with the outside world. But we do often have the threat of bad weather, and with it comes the anxiety about what we would do if we woke up tomorrow morning with little food, no heat, and too much snow to dig through.

Being prepared for the worst will have you sleeping better at night so you’ll be well-rested when you wake up and realize the forecast was wrong, the roads are clear, and you DO have to go to work.

But for that one time you really are snowed in, source the following items and keep them together in a labelled, waterproof container. Check it once a year to replace any out of date items:

Water: Keep enough bottled water for each member of your household to consume 6 – 8oz/day for up to three days, or more if you’re in a remote area. Don’t forget to include extra water for pets and consider keeping a rain barrel of grey water in your garage in case you need water to flush the toilet (and keep a bucket near it to carry the water in).

Non-perishable Food: Have enough food for at least three days worth for each member of your family. Along with canned and dried items, keep some calorically-dense foods like power bars, granola bars, and canned nutritional shakes. And make sure you have a manual can-opener!

Eat what you can out of your fridge or freezer first, but remember that after 4 hours without power, food in your refrigerator or freezer is no longer considered safe to eat. Keep the fridge doors closed as much as possible and throw out anything considered unsafe once the power is back on. Of course, if the temperature outdoors is well below freezing, you can store items from your freezer outside and bring them in once electricity has been restored and your fridge and freezer are back to optimal temperatures. 

Firewood & Candles: If you’re fortunate enough to have a wood-burning fire, make sure you have dry firewood, kindling, and matches. Candles are also a good source of heat and light. Remember to never leave any fire burning unattended.

Portable Cooker/BBQ/Canned fuel: Obviously the goal in bad weather is to stay inside. If you dress up warmly, you can use your BBQ or camping stove outside to heat up food. The other option is to purchase canned fuel (available at hardware stores) which can be used inside, is hot enough to heat canned food and will burn for several hours.

Pocket Warmers: Did your mom ever put these in the pockets of your snowsuit? Mom probably knew that in cold weather, your body diverts blood away from your extremities and towards your core to keep your internal organs safe. Hand and toe warmers can be purchased in bulk; they start producing heat within seconds of being “popped” and they’ll keep your hands and feet warm for hours.

Blankets & Pillows: Once you don’t have to worry about food, water, and heat, you can have a bit of fun. Gather all your blankets and pillows in the warmest part of the house and build a fort just like you used to when you were a kid. Once everyone piles in, body heat will help keep you all warm. 

Entertainment: Have some movies & music downloaded onto your laptop or tablet. Your devices won’t stay charged forever though, so bring some board games, playing cards, and good books into your fort to keep spirits up and boredom at bay. 

Portable Charger/Power Bank: To keep your phone and laptop charged for at least a few extra hours, keep some portable chargers or power banks on hand. These obviously need to be fully charged to work so as soon as you hear that bad weather is on the way, pull them out of storage and charge them up.

Transistor Radio: Use a battery-powered radio to get updates about weather conditions and power outages. They’re also great for listening to some music or talk-radio for entertainment. 

Flashlights: It’s amazing how our smartphones have replaced so many everyday objects in our lives, flashlights included. You may not even know where your flashlights are anymore since you can just swipe up on your phone and press that little flashlight button. When the power goes out, use your phone’s flashlight to locate your battery-powered flashlight. Or just keep one in your emergency kit ready to go.

First Aid Kit: Keep a well-stocked kit of bandages, alcohol swabs, gauze, antibacterial gels, hand sanitizer, and scissors.

Batteries: Have a variety of batteries to power your radio, flashlight, and any other portable, battery-powered devices you might need.

Personal Items: Make a list of the items you go through on a regular basis. Does anyone in your home rely on medications that they can’t run out of? Do you have a baby who needs diapers, formula, or baby food? Do you have pets? Consider the individual needs of each member of your household and store appropriate supplies, toiletries, and food items for each one. 

Don’t forget about the neighbours: Is there an elderly neighbour or single parent who may appreciate some company and checking up on?

And don’t forget about an emergency kit for travel: It’s more likely that you’ll find yourself stranded in your car than your home this winter. An emergency kit with blankets, a shovel, first-aid kit, coat, hat, mittens, hand and toe warmers, bottled water, and snacks, is an absolute must anytime you travel during the winter in Canada.

Anything we’ve forgotten? What do you have in your emergency kit that may help others? Feel free to leave a comment so we can all be better prepared and sleep easier the next time the forecast calls for a Canadian snowpocalypse.

 

Is Winter Weather Affecting Your Internet Connection?

Winter weather is on the move across Canada, blanketing our roads and homes with snow and ice. Your internet connection can deal with average winter conditions, but severe weather can slow down or even shut down your internet connection. Here are some ways in which bad winter weather might impact your DSL or cable internet speeds, and some suggestions for what you can do about it.

High winds, heavy snow, ice build-up, and ground heaves due to freezing and thawing can take out power lines, damage connection points between your internet provider and your home, and stress cables, causing your connection to be slow or even be dropped if lines are damaged or broken.

(Remember: never touch exposed wires or cables as they could be live. Always call your local utility company to report downed power lines.)

What can you do about a slow or nonexistent internet connection?

At Worldline, we know it’s frustrating when your internet connection is not all that you want it to be. If you don’t see a blizzard raging outside, start with the easy things: check all the connections inside your house to make sure no cables or connection points have accidentally been pulled out or damaged. 

It’s become a cliché to say “turn it off and turn it on again” in relation to any tech issue, but it is still a viable option. Turn off your router (make sure to warn everyone in the home first!), wait a few seconds, and turn it back on again; you’d be amazed how many times that works. 

Next, check and see just how many people in your home are using the internet. If you have a combination of gamers and movie and music streamers, your internet connection speed will likely suffer no matter what the weather is doing. Consider upgrading your internet package to accommodate more users or encourage everyone in the house to watch a movie or play a game together. 

Your next step is to take a walk outdoors and check your termination box. This is the point where the cables enter your home from the outside. Wear and tear, snow and ice buildup, or moisture on any exposed wires can cause lines to short out. Make it a priority once or twice a year to check your termination box for any damage and be sure to contact your internet provider if you think there’s a problem with it.

Still having issues with your internet connection?

One thing to bear in mind during cold weather is that if YOU want to be inside where it’s warm, your neighbours probably do too. Heavy internet usage in the neighbourhood can mean poor connection and download speeds for everyone. Have a bit of patience, and consider hosting friends from the neighbourhood to enjoy a movie or game night together while cutting down on competing internet usage.

It’s also worth remembering that good weather in your neighbourhood doesn’t mean there isn’t a storm somewhere else that’s impacting connection points to your home. Check local weather reports as well as utility and internet provider sites to see if there’s a problem somewhere. Again, patience is really the only answer here as you wait for the storm to blow over.

And for Worldline customers, if your problems aren’t blowing over with the weather, you can always give us a call and we’ll do what we can to help. 

Stay warm and stay safe this winter, friends!

 

The Future of Streaming

With the launch of Apple TV and Disney+ on the horizon, what’s the future of streaming look like?

Disney’s D23 Expo took place last month, and alongside the main event was a panel announcing a bunch of new film/television productions, and the entertainment giant’s upcoming streaming service, Disney+.

There is already an astounding amount of streaming services available – more than 300! And that doesn’t even include the launches from media giants like Disney, Apple, Warner Media, and NBC Universal in the months ahead.

It’s undoubtedly a competitive field, and we are living in an age where we have the blessing and curse of too much content – specifically in television. With so much content and so many devices offering streaming subscriptions, it can be hard to pinpoint which device is best for your needs.

So, we’re here to break it down the top streaming devices.

 

Amazon Fire TV Stick

1Amazon Fire TV StickAmazon Fire TV devices focus heavily on Amazon Prime media, with Amazon Instant Video and Amazon Prime Music built into the menu system. Fire TV has plenty of other services available, like Hulu, Netflix, and YouTube. But, the significant advantage of Fire TV is having all your Prime content right at your fingertips.

For a one-time payment of $50, you can plug the Fire TV Stick into your HDTV and start streaming in minutes.

 

Roku Premiere

Roku PremiereRoku currently offers thousands of choices in the Roku Channel Store. All the big streaming media names are available, including Amazon Prime, Netflix, Spotify, and Twitch, along with many smaller, niche apps and services for movies, sports, weather, and news.

For a less expensive alternative, the Roku Premiere is a 4K-capable streaming device available for $49.99.

 

Chromecast

ChromecastGoogle Chromecast is one of the most user-friendly devices available; plug it into a power source, plug it into your TV or sound system, and control everything through your mobile device. There are no remotes, no on-screen interfaces, and no app stores to separately navigate. You connect your Chromecast to your home network and stream whatever you’re watching on your smartphone or tablet.

With Google Chromecast you can watch movies, sports and television shows for the low-cost of $45.

 

Android TV

Android TVAndroid TV is Google’s dedicated Android-based media streaming system. The Android TV-powered device includes Google Assistant, putting it on the same level as the Fire TV with Alexa and the Apple TV with Siri. Android TV devices are Google Cast compatible, so you can use your smartphone or tablet to stream content to it just as if you had a Chromecast.

For $180, Android TV offers all the movies, shows, games, and music you could ask for!

Ultimately, the right Internet connection paired with any one of these devices is an excellent choice for bringing online content to your TV.

Worldline Moving Guide

There’s no doubt that summer is the ideal time of year to sell your home. The demand for housing is at its highest and Canadians can avoid snow and rain that tends to come with moving in the winter or spring.

Moving in the summer demands plenty of planning to ensure everything goes as smoothly as possible, from the time you start packing up your belongings to the moment you settle into your new home.

Amongst all the planning, it’s essential to prepare your Internet services for the big move. With that in mind, we have put together a list of ways to prepare your services.

Moving

Plan Ahead

Planning is important! To avoid any interruptions in your service, you’ll need to contact us at least five days before your move. Provide your new address details, including the postal code and unit/apt number (if applicable).

When you call in, we will verify service availability at your new address. A Worldline customer representative requires up to 3-5 business days to schedule a technician. They will help you schedule an install date and time that works for you.

Moving Check List

When it comes time to install at your new address, ensure someone over the age of 18 is home during the entire time slot you chose.

Make sure there’s clear access to cable outlets and have all your equipment (modem, power cords, etc.) on-site so that the technician can ensure everything is working correctly once reconnected.

If you need to change your installation date and time, or you have questions about moving your services, don’t hesitate to call.

Settling In

This list may not eliminate your moving pressures entirely, but hopefully, it will make your life easier and less stressful as you settle into your new home.