If you’re not sure about what I just wrote, you’re not alone. According to Donna Rice Hughes, President of online safety organization Enough is Enough, too many parents don’t know either. That’s why she developed the Internet Safety 101SM program for parents and educators, which was officially released last week at a national press conference (AT&T was one of the sponsors of the program), and where she warned parents about the lingo predators use to entice children, like the example above.
The 101 program is a kit of sorts: a DVD teaching series, workbook and website to help educate and empower adults about online safety. Its “old school” use of technology, using DVDs and even paper, is purposeful because it’s directed at those parents and caregivers least comfortable with today’s digital world.
But its contents are anything but “old school.” The program teaches parents and caregivers not only how kids are using today’s technology, but what they are doing with it. The program uses real-life examples to personalize the issues kids are dealing with and to give parents a candid and honest assessment of the challenges they may face. While it can be uncomfortable at times, ultimately the program is not about creating new fear in parents and caregivers, but instead it’s about empowering them to help their kids be safe while still embracing all the extraordinary benefits of the Internet and 21st century technology.
As Donna pointed out at the press conference, it’s easy for parents to be overwhelmed today. Children are often better, faster and more creative at surfing the web than we adults are, yet they are just as often unaware of the magnitude of their online activity. That’s where we adults come in—or where we should.
And our approach should be balanced. While there are activities that should concern us, there are opportunities that should thrill us. Through a program we support by iKeepSafe and the American School Counselors Association, we learn about a teen who was given a full scholarship by a CEO who was impressed by the blog he wrote in high school. AT&T also supports other organizations, like ConnectSafely and Family Online Safety Institute, which endorse innovative, balanced efforts to help children keep safe online.
We also work with senior organizations like OASIS, National Caucus and Center on Black Aged and SeniorNet on helping seniors keep safe with today’s technology. And, of course, we provide our customers with access to a variety of tools and information that they can use to help set the rules that make the most sense for them and their households. Everyone is getting on the World Wide Web. We think that’s great and it’s essential if we want to stay competitive in today’s global economy.
For more on Enough is Enough’s kit, go to www.Internetsafety101.org.