A great cyber safety program kicks off its fourth year this month. The FBI has launched its annual Safe Online Surfing (SOS) program for use in schools – an educational contest that will enable teachers and students to share lessons that teach safe internet activity.
The program is aimed at grades 3 though 8, with separate, game-ified sections for each. The game is laid out as a series of islands – one for each grade. Students visit their appointed island and complete tasks during which they learn lessons about cell phone safety, the protection of personal information, password strength, safe websites, instant messaging, social networking, and online gaming safety.
Teachers are charged with registering their schools and tracking the number of participants and their progress, but the FBI does not collect any information from or about participating students. Winning classes from each grade level are eligible to win a visit from their local FBI office.
In order to attract participants, the FBI has turned the study materials into a competition. According to the website:
“After navigating through the appropriate island, students take a timed quiz. The test scores for each school are aggregated by the FBI and appear on a national leaderboard on the website each month from September through May. Schools compete in one of three categories, determined by the number of students participating: Starfish (5-50 participants); Stingray (51-100); and Shark (100+). The top-scoring school in each category at the end of the month receives a national FBI-SOS award. When possible, the winning schools are visited by representatives of their local FBI field office.”
The FBI is looking to extend the program’s great track record. The number of students who have completed the training went from 24,475 in 2012-2013 to 275,656 in 2014-2015. Numbers for the 2015-2016 contest look to be even bigger.
Teachers can register their class by clicking here.
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