With the popularity of social media, email, the internet, and texting, it is increasingly important to act responsibly while staying safe in the digital world. Because of their convenience, the internet and texting make it easy for people to do harm. You need to be aware of the risks associated with living in a digital world, whether in the form of online bullying, identity theft, or other scams.
Be aware that there have been recent reports of global scams targeting international students. One such incident involves victims who receive an automated call appearing to be from a foreign consulate, embassy or law enforcement agency asking for personal information or instructing you to do something. This personal information will be used against you and your family for financial gain. If you receive such a phone call, you should immediately hang up, notify the local police, and inform your homestay family / school staff. Do not provide any personal information.
- If you would not say it to someone in person, do not say it online.
- Harassment and certain forms of bullying are against the law.
- Do not take or share a picture or video of someone else without their permission.
- Any photo, image, or video showing someone (including yourself) under 18 years old engaged in a sexual activity, including any nudity, is legally considered to be child pornography. It is illegal to view, take, keep, send, or post such pictures or videos.
- You must be accountable for everything you post online.
- Only accept friend requests from people you know in real life.
- Avoid posting personal information, such as your exact birthday, phone number, or address.
- Make sure to adjust your privacy settings so you know exactly who will see what you share.
- Use strong passwords and do not share them.
- Do not click on links or open attachments without knowing they are valid.
- For any banking / financial / online shopping transaction, make sure the website address starts with https://.
- Maintain up-to-date anti-virus protection and web browsers.
- If you believe that you are the victim of online crime, fraud, scam, bullying or harassment, get help.
- Do not try to hide the situation or fix it by yourself.
- Contact the police
- Contact your school or the School District’s International Education Department
- Tell someone you trust. They can help you figure out how to solve the problem.
- If you feel comfortable, it may also be useful to tell your homestay family – they can help you to get in touch with the police or the school.
- A good tool to report a bullying or harassment incident anonymously is the ERASE reporting tool
- When reporting an incident, include as much of the following as you can:
- When did this happen? Noting the time and date is important because some online content, such as discussion threads in chatrooms, can quickly disappear.
- How was the content delivered? Were you sent something directly through email, SMS, text message, instant message, or private messaging? Did you come across something while browsing the Web?
- Keep the original email or save your chat/text log, should you need to give them to law enforcement officials.
- Take a screenshot of the content in question to give to police.
Resources for additional information
- ERASE Student Advisory Social Media Guidelines
- Government of Canada: Cyber Security Risks
- Media Smarts: Spam, Scams, Frauds and Identity Theft
- Media Smarts: Special Issues for Teenagers
- Canadian Centre for Child Protection: NeedHelpNow.ca
- Telus: How to Determine if it’s Cyberbullying
- Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP): Virtual Kidnapping Incidents – Updated April 2018
- Information for Chinese Nationals on Online Safety and Virtual Kidnapping from the Consulate General of the People’s Republic of China in Vancouver
- Vancouver Police Department (VPD): Warning About ‘Virtual Kidnapping Scheme’