Social Networking Tips from Peel Regional Police

March 15, 2017

Peel Regional Police’s Top Ten Social Networking Site Tips

A friend of mine shared this with me recently, so I read it and wanted to share it as well. You can download the PDF here, or read an exact copy below.

I spent a long time as an administrator of some social media sites and I’ve seen some things no one should see, learned some things about people that surprised, shocked and disgusted me, and been directly involved in terrible situations that could have been avoided had simple guidelines like these been followed. It has given me a perspective that many people can’t see. When the police tell you not to do something, it is because they’ve already been to hundreds of scenes where disaster could have been avoided. They know something we don’t know, and we should be willing to learn from others.

Let’s dive into this top 10 list and discuss these guidelines.
Peel Regional Police

1. Think about which site you want to use.

Some sites will allow you to restrict users who access posted content; others allow anyone and everyone to view your postings.

Lance’s comments: My kids never bother to look at technical details like this and I know that most people are not concerned, but this is definitely worth discovering. When you use a site/app, take a moment to look at the settings. If you can set your account/profile to private, do it.

2. Keep control over the information you post.

Consider restricting access to your page to a select group of people, for example, your friends or friends from school, your club, your team, your community groups, or your family.

Lance’s comments: The Police are telling you to do something that cannot be done, but I do agree with their sentiments. The bottom line is there is literally nothing you can do to control what you put online. The nature of how the internet works makes it impossible to do this. More on this idea, below.

3. Keep your information to yourself.

Don’t post your full name, address, phone number, or any kind of financial or personal information; SIN #, bank and credit card account numbers — and don’t post other people’s information either. Be cautious about posting information that could be used to identify you or locate you offline. This could include the name of your school, teachers, family members, sports team, clubs, and where you work or hang out.

Lance’s comments: Do you want to put yourself in danger really fast? This is how you do it. This has to be the number one bad idea that I’ve run into. Just like point #2 above, you can NOT control what you put online, so don’t put stuff like this online. It just sits there waiting for predators, and you’re not trying to protect yourself from one lone bad guy in your area. Internet predators are like wolf packs – they work together to collect and share their prey. If you put it online, they will find it.

4. Use a screen name that doesn’t say much about you.

Don’t use your name, your age, year of birth, or your hometown. Even if you think your screen name makes you anonymous, it takes very little effort to combine clues and figure out who you are and where you can be found.

Lance’s comments: Birth dates are so incredibly common. Don’t be common. Screen names that are random are actually ideal, even if you don’t have an easy way to remember it. The point is not to make it easy for YOU to remember – the point is to make it difficult for someone ELSE to connect it to you. Try digging up information about yourself – you will be surprised how easily one clue leads to another, and soon enough you’ve built a profile that just speaks volumes about you.

5. Post only information that you are comfortable with others seeing — and knowing — about you.

Anyone can see your page, including your employer, your parents, your teachers, the police, your school or the job you might want to apply for in five years.

Lance’s comments: This is absolutely true. In fact, there is a website called the Way Back Machine and its purpose is to archive the entire internet. Once you put something line, it stays there. By the way: online does not simply mean websites. iOS, Android, Backberry etc apps are all online as well. Your phone is transmitting your data all the time, whether you choose to send it or not (think Apple’s Photo Stream).

6. Don’t post personal photos.

They can be altered and used in ways you may not be happy about. If you do post one, ask yourself whether it’s one your mom would display in the living room.

Lance’s comments: This is dead-serious and 100% true. I am very good with Photoshop and I’ve seen many pics that have been altered where I could not tell they were. Every still image you see in a magazine or poster etc has been put through Photoshop, edited, changed, enhanced, etc, and it is not difficult to do the same to your pics.

Aside from the photo-hacking, your personal photos also means nudes. If you’re shooting nudes on a phone, you’re in the wrong. There are so many ways for you to lose control over photos that are ON your phone. Apple’s photo streaming service sends all your pics (by default) directly to Apple’s servers, which have been hacked before (think of all the celebs who had their nudes hacked and released). Your phone also adds details to each photo that include where you were on the planet, down to a few meters/feet, what time it was, etc etc. Look at the map tab on your Instagram account and you’ll see that all your pics are geo-tagged. This, too, is a default setting. When your iPhone/iPad backs itself up to iCloud you are sending your entire phone to Apple’s servers again. When you back it up yourself on your computer, Apple wants to send it to the cloud again and you have to disable that as well.

That’s just Apple. What about all those apps you’re using? Are the makers of those apps more or less trustworthy than Apple? What are they doing with your data? And what about Android? Whenever I download an app to my Android it tells me directly what that app wants access to, and it is pretty amazing how deep they go.

If you have pics on your phone, they will make it online.

7. Flirting with strangers online could have serious consequences.

Because some people lie about who they really are and their intentions, you never really know who you’re dealing with.

Lance’s comments: Flirting is fun. There is a thrill in getting someone to like you, and being liked in return. Predators know this and use it. Keep that in mind when you’re talking to people whom you do not know in person. And consider the fact that you may be talking only to your friend’s phone, and not actually your friend. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told, “my friend took my phone and sent that.”

8. Be wary if a new online friend who wants to meet you in person.

Before you decide to meet someone, do your research; ask whether any of your friends knows the person, and see what background you can dig up through online search engines. If you decide to meet them, be smart: Meet in a public place, during the day, with friends you trust. Tell someone where you’re going, and when you expect to be back.

Lance’s comments: This is a major concern with internet dating and dating apps, and NOT just for females. I do not agree with the advice from the Police here because I think it is too soft. The very first time you meet someone from the internet/dating app, you’re a fool if you do it alone. Always do it in a busy public place, and always have friends nearby watching.

It is important to note that predators often use a tactic called grooming. This is where they build trust with their target over time, so keep that in mind and don’t be one of those people who says, “they seemed so nice, I can’t believe they’d do something like that.” Good relationships take time to build, so put that time in before you let them get close enough to hurt you.

9. You can’t take it back.

Even if you delete the information from your page, it’s still out there; on other people’s computers.

Lance’s comments: You may notice that this is a theme here. The nature of the internet is such that once data leaves your computer/phone/tablet (device) it is permanently out of your control.

When I was working for social media sites it was common for users of the sites, lawyers and police to contact us and ask that content be removed. This is actually the easy part because we’d say to them, “sure,” and then we’d remove it. But, it is more complex than that. If the site is large, then they’re likely to use something called a content delivery network (CDN) which means that numerous computers located at data centers around the planet have exact copies of the website. This is meant to speed up the page times, but it also means that when the data is removed from one computer it is not removed from all of them. That takes time.

Also, when someone views any content their device has already downloaded the data. It is literally on their phone or computer at this point. This is called the cache and people can store it permanently. They can also take screenshots.

It gets worse, because the website and its users are not the only place/people where your data is. When your device sent it to the internet the data went through your internet service provider’s network, which means they have a cached copy. Every step along the way (called a node) has a cached copy, right from you, to the site, to the user at the other end.

You literally can not take it back. When you hit upload, what you are actually doing is saying, “I want to permanently lose control over this.

10. Go with your gut feeling.

If you feel uncomfortable or threatened because of something directed at you online, tell an adult you trust and/or report it to the police, and the social networking site. You could be preventing yourself or someone else from becoming a victim.

Lance’s comments: Don’t feel defenseless or hopeless about losing control of your data. Even though you can’t stop it, you can slow it down. You must make contact with the site/service where your data is being exploited and demand it be taken down. At the same time you also need to contact the local Police. Do both. If a school is involved, include the administrators as well.

Predators know that people are afraid to get help and they will use that against you. If you’re embarrassed about a nude/vid of you because the predator is threatening you with it, imagine the damage when they spread it. It is much better to face the website, the police, the lawyer and the school admins than to let that get out of control. Let the predator believe you’re scared, and then bring the combined might of your defence team down upon them.

If you’re a minor and you’re concerned about your parents finding out, rest assured that they want your safety more than they want to crap on you for doing something stupid online. Yes, you will be given crap for doing stupid things, but you will be safe when it happens, if you open up. As a parent I know first hand that kids want to keep things out of their parents’ view, just between them and their friends, but that’s the exact opposite of what should be done. Think about it: have you ever had a friend turn on you? It can happen. Also, how can another kid know how to help you? Do other kids really have the knowledge, tools, and resources to make the predator stop? To take your data offline?

You don’t have to like (trusted) adults to recognize that they’re the ones most able to help you.

Finally, consider the fact that YOU are not the only person these predators are preying upon. When you take down one predator you are saving multiple people from them.

*Remember, if you’re not willing to shout out information about you from the top of City Hall in your hometown, then don’t post it.

Lance’s comments: This is actually the one single piece of advice that you can carry with you that will help you in every single situation. Are you willing to do or say this thing in front of everyone? If not, then it’s not the right move.

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Helping Your Kids is Hurting Your Kids

March 3, 2017
If you’re helping your kids, you’re hurting your kids.
 
This is a hard lesson for me. I totally screwed it up for the past 15 years, because I have always been so eager to teach them what I know, and to help them as much as possible. I did not realize that I was making them dependent upon me. No need to think too hard or look too deeply because I was readily available with instant answers and eager help. I am now 3 and a half years into my 3rd kid and I am trying my best to not repeat any mistakes.
One of those mistakes I am consciously working to not repeat is helping out too much. Instead, and against his mother’s wishes, I allow him to fail, crash, cry, get hurt and struggle. That statement can sound terrible, so let me clarify: I do not let him get into dangerous situations. I let him run and fall. I let him try and fail. I answer questions with more questions. Things like that.
You want it, boy? Ok, work for it.
You know, doing that has revealed some wisdom to me: when he fails, I console him; when he wins, I congratulate him. These two situations are better opportunities for teaching than providing answers and swooping in to help. The strength gained by learning how to deal with failure, and the pride in thereafter winning, are tools that he can take with him when I am not there.
And that’s why I am not helping my kids so much anymore. The earlier you start, the easier it is to build these values, so give it a shot and see for yourself.

Self-Harm

January 17, 2017

This is not a well thought out post. I am just writing a general message based on what’s been on my mind recently. I feel like I am not the only parent out there to have been surprised to learn about their child’s self-harming until it was way too late to be an effective resource for their own child. I am still in the midst of it all so I cannot pretend to speak from the perspective of someone who has been there, worked through it and has golden advice. I am a work in progress, just like you are.

Believe it or not, self-harm is a thing that people do. Young teen girls have a slight numbers advantage over teen boys, so it is not fair to claim that it’s a girl thing.

You may believe that you don’t know anyone who would cut themselves (for example), but you may be surprised to find out the opposite.

People who self-harm will keep it a secret, most especially when they believe that they cannot tell you. They’re not looking for judgement, criticism or to be corrected when they do tell someone. If you want to know if anyone in your life self-harms you must first make it known that you’re not going to have a negative reaction to learning about it.

And if you do find yourself learning that your child has done it, your response simply must come from a position of love and support, and absolutely cannot come from admonishment nor scrutiny.

I am not someone who has ever intentionally hurt myself and it does not appeal to me, but I do know of others who have/do. I cannot relate to the thoughts that lead people to hurting themselves, but I don’t need to. What I need to do is ensure these people know that my love for them is real and that I am going to support them in getting the proper help, without judgement.

It is a long and difficult road for everyone and there is no room for us to bring along our negative baggage. I don’t know how to advise anyone to bring this up in their home without it coming off as a witch hunt, but it one of those things that should be addressed sooner than later. Find a way. If you have success, please share you story with someone.

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They Are Only Little For a Short Time

May 31, 2016

Last night my boy, almost 3, woke up and came to our room talking about Mamá. He was fully alert, but we put him in our bed with us hoping he’d pass back out because it was close to midnight. He was too awake to fall back asleep quickly though. As he laid there trying, he would pop up suddenly start talking about his deep, random thoughts. I feigned sleep to encourage him to keep trying, and to my surprise he did keep trying.

After some time he started sitting up, looking around the darkened room, laying back down, then sitting up again to feel for me. When he found me he leaned forward and kissed me. He first got my shoulder, on the blanket, then he tried again and got my shoulder on my skin. He laid back down and continued feeling around for me. He found my beard and rubbed it so gently for a moment, then sat up and kissing me on my cheek. I couldn’t help it; I grabbed his head and kissed him back! I thought he’d really start talking now that I had enthusiastically confirmed that I was awake, but he just laid back down and put his hand on my shoulder.

A few moments later he rolled away and then I passed out.

This is the sweetest child I’ve ever met. He never fails to impress me.

Only_Small_for_a_little_while

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How to Talk to Your Kids

May 19, 2016

How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk, by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish
You can’t really take my word too seriously on this topic because I seem to have lost my ability to talk to my kids. People always warned me from the moment my daughter was born that the teen years would be hell, and when the second one came along people found it amusing to point out just how much trouble I was in for. Hearing comments like that were laughable, and over time they angered me because I felt it was pretty obvious that I had a great relationship with my girls. To me, those people were flat out wrong. At least it were wrong at the time. That is until around the age of 8 (or thereabouts), for both of them. I once read that 8 years old is when girls start to diverge from their parents’ way of thinking – when they begin flexing their individuality, and that held true in my house. They began to really express their individual personalities at that time, and that was hard to deal with. I’ll admit that I didn’t deal with it very well, because I didn’t understand it and I wasn’t equipped to deal with it. I was also out of the country for five months around this time, and custody was split 50/50. Enough complications? Ugh.

I have found that the harder I try to hang onto what we once had the worse it becomes. That relationship is gone. Those little girls are gone. They’re young women now and they don’t have the same wants and needs anymore, so for me –the same guy, mostly– to continue on with them as though they’re still 8 (or younger) is a disservice to them. And to me. I have to adapt as they mature.

I read a book called “How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk,” by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish that I found very helpful. I ran into an article on yourtango.com today that reminded me of that book, and inspired me to write this post. If you don’t have time for the book, the article summarizes many of the principles very well. If I could condense it even further, I’d say this:

Shut up and LISTEN to what your kids have to say.
While you’re listening the only thing you should be thinking about is how what they’re telling you is –aside from paying attention, obviously– this question, “How does this make her feel?

Kids are new – they don’t know until their taught. If you can identify how they’re feeling, say it as a sympathetic statement, or ask directly. If you translate their feelings into words they are now more equipped to express and eventually process (deal with) those feelings.

One of the challenges for the adult mind to deal with in these situations is to shut up. For us the problems kids deal with are simple, easy to solve or avoid, and largely inconsequential. We could easily deal with them in their shoes, but only if we had our adult brain and lifetime of experience. They don’t have those, so remember that. What they feel is real, regardless of your perception of it. To them, their feelings are their world; don’t deny them.

Mother’s Day

May 10, 2016

One Day Is Not Enough

Almost 3 years have passed since my beautiful wife delivered her first child (my third). a sweet little boy. In that short time he has grown into the happiest little guy I’ve ever seen. He is affectionate, sensitive, very bright, observant, strangely obedient, and of course he has more energy than the sun!

Thinking about how he is developing so well really strikes me and I find myself in awe, daily. Clearly it is not my doing! There are certain circumstances required for a child to reach his potential, such as being guided through life by someone who shows him love, affection and kindness all day, every day. He needs someone to give him firm boundaries, to read to him (in two languages, no less), to explore his world with him, to teach him manners and right from wrong. Someone who places more importance on his well-being than their own personal interests. Someone with the patience to hold him while he cries for hours on end, for seemingly no reason.

That person isn’t me, even though this is my 3rd time around the block. The only person who fits this description is Mamá. She does this without enough sleep, without any experience, and without complaint. One day isn’t enough.

¡Feliz día de las Madres!

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Is Hate a Virtue?

April 12, 2016

is-hate-a-virtue

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I Want to be an Air Cadet, too!

April 8, 2016
Royal Canadian Air Force Rank Badges

Royal Canadian Air Force Rank Badges

RANT:

MAN I’m jealous of my kids in that that I cannot be an Air Cadet, too!

Seriously. Look what they can do that I cannot:

I can’t get a free (and nice) uniform that instantly commands respect.
I can’t take part in free weekly training in musical band.
I can’t take part in free weekly training in drill routines.
I can’t take part in free weekly training in marksmanship (rifles).
I can’t take part in free weekly training in aerospace technology.
I can’t take part in free weekly training in Meteorology.
I can’t take part in free powered and non-powered glider training.
I can’t get my pilot’s licence for free (high achievers get this sponsored).
I can’t go flying for free, twice per year.
I can’t go to free summer courses that PAY ME to learn new skills.
I can’t decorate that uniform with pins that signify my membership in a world class respected organization.
I can’t decorate that uniform with patches for completing challenging courses.
I can’t decorate that uniform with rank badges that signify my hard work and dedication.
I can’t do all these things during my (long gone) teen years earning me tremendous respect from my family and community, leveraging the opportunities that this generates into a fulfilling future.

No, I can’t. They can.

What I could do is join the armed forces —giving up my ability to earn money — to enter training, be away from my family until that’s completed, then move away to a new city to complete mandatory placements. Someone has a better deal here and you’re damned right I’m jealous about it. I didn’t learn anything important until it was too late. The Cadet program would have made me so much better, so much sooner.

The good news is that my girls will not follow my poorly chosen footsteps.

UPDATE, 2016-05-02: I learned from a trusted source that there is a way for me to do quite a few of those things that I complain so maturely about, above. So interesting to see how this unfolds now…

 

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Being Cared For

March 22, 2016

Lunch

Each morning I quietly sneak into the kitchen and grab my lunch bag, trying not to wake the little one. In that lunch bag I find breakfast ready to go, with a heart carefully drawn on the ziplock bag. Sometimes there’s a more direct message of “I love you” written on tin foil, depending on what breakfast is that morning. In fact, most of the wrappings have something written on them, and even the plastic containers have been marked with little messages.

Later in the day when I’m sitting at my desk, hungry, I reach for my lunch bag and find that it also contains a variety of containers all prepared the night before. Sometimes there’s a salad, with things like nuts, peppers, tomatoes, and things I don’t even understand, added in. Inside the salad container there is always a salad dressing waiting in its own little container. Other times I find things like alll of the ingredients needed for real Mexican tacos, including sliced limes, diced onions and cilantro – everything individually packaged so that nothing gets soggy or mixed too soon. Sometimes the tortillas are home-made! That’s not all – I’ve even found baked salmon with rice and green olives waiting for me!

Snacks are always included: sometimes it’s the traditional chocolate chip cookies, or a healthier choice of mixed nuts & berries, or a quick apple or banana. When I am really lucky there are M&Ms, straight from the freezer (because I like them frozen)!

When it is up to me things are very different. My choices are a quick and dirty toast with butter for breakfast and peanut butter & jam sandwiches for lunch. And the cookies – I don’t deny myself the cookies! So, to be treated to this level of consideration and careful preparation is more than I could hope to ask for. And I don’t ask for it – it just happens. The only other time I’ve been so cared for was when my loving mother was taking care of me as an incompetent, unaware, (and possibly thankless) little kid.

This is what my wife does for me each day. I’ve thought about it for some time and I cannot find that point in our marriage where I did something that deserved me such a selfless and loving woman at my side. When I find out what it is I am going to be obligated to write a book about it so that others can experience a relationship as awesome as this one is. But, until then, I will settle for showing her my sincere appreciation, and bragging to everyone at work how awesome my lunches are.

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Effective Speaking

February 27, 2016

Effective Speaking

It’s over.

I literally FORCED my daughters to join the Effective Speaking program in their Royal Canadian Air Cadet Squadron. One of them was easier to force than the other, and one of them was more persistent about getting out of it, once in. –Nah, I’m not gonna say which one that was. Despite the challenges they brought to me, and that they faced, I am proud to say that I’m impressed with their performances.

My eldest urged everyone in the room to become the best version of themselves with a motivational speech about her first time piloting a plane at 12 years old, which was another thing I forced her to do, lol. Her younger sister brought a pair of tears to my eye with her heart-penetrating speech about the importance of becoming an organ donor, finishing it off with an affirmation that she has already decided to become one herself.

They pushed themselves way outside of their comfort zones, and made two very passionate speeches in front of 11 cadets (2 of whom are Warrant Officers, 2nd Class), 2 Officers (one of whom is a Captain and an actual pilot), the SSC’s treasurer, and a single set of parents. At the end of it all the speakers received feedback from the Captain and their Squadran WOII, making it a great experience for me, and likely the cadets, too, whether they realize it or not.

Today I learned, yet again, that there is always –always– so much more to everyone we meet than what we think. These 7 kids prepared and delivered 14 great speeches, revealing insights into how their minds work,, how they perceive the world they live in, and demonstrating the time and effort they put into them. Despite public speaking being one of the biggest fears for most people, these kids all wanted to win. They all wanted to do well. They all wanted each other to do well, too, which I was really impressed by.

The cadets running the event were not paid to be there. The SSC’s treasurer was not paid to be there. And none of the officers were paid to be there. How many kids, adults, accountants or professional pilots do you think would give up their Saturday to operate a speaking competition and give their sincere advice – for free? These are the kinds of people I want my kids to associate with. These are the kinds of people I want my kids to be inspired by. This selflessness in community service is what the Air Cadets brings to our lives, and I am grateful for them.

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