FBI Launches 4th Annual Safe Internet Program for Teachers, Students

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 educationalFBI-internet-safety 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 FBI-online-safetyto 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.

 

 

Contact ThirdParent any time for help and resources for monitoring child and teen internet activity.

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If You’re Worried About Internet Acronyms, You’re Already Behind

The UK Department of Education released a parents’ guide to internet acronyms this week, and the press has rushed to cover it as if it will solve all the problems of unsafe and inappropriate youth internet activity once and for all. That’s not the way digital parenting works. A few of the headlines:

Social media teen terms decoded for concerned parents 

Teen chat 101: Fearful parents given guide to kid’s online language

QUIZ: Do you know your LOLs from your GNOCs?

“Social media decoding dictionary launched for concerned parents”

Chat guide to help Parents keep Children safe on the Internet

Sure, there are times when it will be helpful for a parent to know the meaning of an acronym that she happens to see one of her kids using, but by that time the game may be over.

For example, the guide helpfully points out that GNOC stands for “get naked on camera”. If your teen or tween is online discussing getting naked on a webcam, you probably missed an opportunity a couple of years ago to have a discussion about what is appropriate for young internet users, the risks of transmitting explicit selfies, and the importance of knowing exactly who is on the other end of your internet connection. And this might not be the first time it’s happening.

The key is to talk to your kids before inappropriate activity is even on their radar screen. We understand that this might be difficult, because you could end up discussing activities your kids aren’t contemplating, and therefore might be giving them ideas. No one said this would be easy.

Our recommendation is that these talks need to begin in earnest, and frequently, before your child has unsupervised internet access or owns his own smartphone.

This analogy has been used before but it’s true: you can build a fence around your home swimming pool (maybe you have to), or you can teach your child to swim. We recommend the swimming lessons.

 

 

 

Contact ThirdParent any time for help and resources for monitoring child and teen internet activity.

Work at a high school or college? We have custom solutions for monitoring dangerous or inappropriate activity. Learn more.

Follow us on Twitter or Facebook for more news and information on keeping your teens safe online. You can also sign up for our weekly newsletter below.

 

Mozilla’s Firefox Joins “Web We Want” Campaign for a Safer Internet

web-we-want-internet-campaignWe hope that a new internet safety and freedom campaign really takes off. Started by internet pioneer Sir Tim Berners-Lee, The Web We Want is a coalition dedicated to bringing change to the internet on both national and global levels that will ensure that the internet of the future is indeed for everyone.

Mozilla, the company behind the Firefox browser, has joined the campaign, and is focused on internet issues related to all users, including children and their safety and privacy. Mozilla published the following video last week to raise awareness for the campaign.

Mozilla is focusing on six key areas in its push to shape the future of the web. It asks whether internet users want a web that:

  • Safeguards privacy
  • Promotes freedom
  • Inspires learning
  • Puts users in control
  • Is available to all
  • Creates opportunity

All are worthy goals, in our opinion.

To join the email support list for The Web We Want, you can sign up here.

A link to the Mozilla project can be found here.

 

Contact ThirdParent any time for help and resources for monitoring child and teen internet activity.

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