Giving Parents New Tools To Keep Kids Safe Online Focus of New Public Awareness Campaign

Toronto, ON, January 13, 2004—Helping Canadian parents protect their children from potential Internet risks is the focus of a new public awareness campaign called Be Web Aware, launched today by a coalition of leading corporate and non-profit organizations led by Media Awareness Network (MNet) and national partners Microsoft Canada and Bell Canada (a founding sponsor of MNet).

Research by Media Awareness Network—Canada’s leading Internet education organization—shows that Canadian youth are among the world’s most active Internet users with 80 per cent having regular access at home. More than half use the Internet with little or no supervision. Yet 25 per cent of young Canadian Internet users have been asked by someone they’ve only met on the Internet to meet face-to-face. Fifteen per cent have gone to meet an Internet acquaintance face-to-face; and almost two in ten of this group went to these meetings alone.

The Be Web Aware initiative includes public service announcements (PSAs) on television, radio, print and outdoor that direct parents to a comprehensive Web site ( The site, developed by Media Awareness Network, is full of information and tools to help parents teach their children to handle the potential risks associated with going online. The television and radio PSAs in English and French will run to April 2004. Print PSAs will run until the end of March 2004. All creative for the public service announcements and the Web site were designed and donated by MacLaren McCann and Corus Entertainment (Interactive division).

Some of the recommendations being offered to parents through the campaign include:

  • Teach your kids the value of their personal information and to protect their privacy on the Internet by not sharing personal details when signing up for free e-mail accounts, using chat rooms, bulletin boards, instant messaging or visiting Web sites. This includes name, gender, age, home and school addresses, e-mail addresses, phone number, picture, credit card information or passwords.
    • Most youth have their own e-mail account (71 percent). Of these, 81 per cent have a free Web-based account (e.g. Hot Mail). When registering for these accounts, 86 per cent indicate their gender, 68 per cent provide their real name, 29 per cent their address and 20 per cent their phone number.*
  • Set clear rules about what kind of sites your kids are allowed to visit.
  • Almost half of young Canadians use the Internet from home for at least an hour every day and many of them do so with little or no adult supervision, guidance or rules – only 24 per cent say they talk to their parents a lot or a fair bit about what they do online.*
  • More than four in ten youth say they have met someone new on the Internet who asked for information such as their photo, phone number, street address or name of the school that they attend.*
  • More than half of young Canadians surveyed say that when using IM they often or sometimes talk to people they have never met.*
  • Talk with your kids about predators and potential online dangers. Young children should not participate in chat rooms. If your teens participate in chat rooms, make it your business to know what chat rooms they visit and who they talk to. Have a house rule that no one provides personal information in chat rooms.
  • If your children use Instant Messaging, check who is on your children’s contact list. Find out if they know each person and encourage them to delete the names of people they have not already met in person.

“Few parents understand their kids’ Internet culture and the more complex issues of safety, privacy, online predators and cyber bullying,” said Jan D’Arcy, Executive Director, Media Awareness Network. “It’s essential for parents to be involved in their children’s online activities and to help them develop good judgment and critical thinking skills to deal with situations, information and people they encounter online. This initiative is unique in that it’s the first time organizations have rallied together to develop a comprehensive, educational campaign for parents.”

“As founding sponsor of the Media Awareness Network, the Be Web Aware campaign is part of Bell Canada’s ongoing commitment to our subscribers to create an online experience that is simple, smart and safe for all online Canadians,” said Pierre Blouin, President Consumer Segment, Bell Canada. “One of our responsibilities as Canada’s leading Internet service provider is to inform our customers about how they can protect themselves and their families from potential risks associated with online use either through products or through initiatives like these.”

“As a company whose focus is largely on the great opportunities associated with the Internet, we’ve learned about its dangerous dark corners from our experience working with organizations like Media Awareness Network and the Toronto Police,” said Frank Clegg, President of Microsoft Canada. “Microsoft has a basic responsibility to do whatever we can to help parents protect their children on the Internet, and awareness is the first step.”

Be Web Aware coalition participants include: Alliance Atlantis, Bell Canada, Canadian Association of Internet Providers, Canadian Library Association, CanWest Global Communications Corp., CHUM Television, CORUS Entertainment, Craig Media Inc., CTV Inc. and its specialty television networks,,, Microsoft Canada,, Rogers Cable Communications Inc., Shaw Communications Inc., and TELUS.

About Media Awareness Network

Media Awareness Network is a non-profit Canadian organization whose mission is to support and encourage media and Internet education, and its widest possible integration into Canadian schools, homes and communities. Our aim is to help people, particularly children and youth, to develop an informed and critical understanding of the nature of the media, the techniques used in creating media products, and the media’s role and influence within society.

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Media Awareness Network
Director of Communications

Meredith Meaden
Media Profile

* Young Canadians in a Wired World: the Student’s View, Media Awareness Network (MNet), 2001.

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