More from the Stop Cyberbullying conference

June 8, 2008 at 11:08 am | Posted in Online Safety | Leave a comment
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Today, I’ll talk about some of the themes and recommendations that resulted from the conference.


  • Schools need help to build a culture to empower kids to the right things, use the right tools, be good cybercitizens, etc…
  • Think like a kid. (e.g. 1- Kids don’t understand the legal mumbo jumbo of Terms of Service and Privacy Policies and don’t read them – they just click through… 2- What happens if I tell?)
  • Keeping the computer in a central location is an outdated concept. Not that it’s a bad thing, but stuff can still get through. Parents have to be more proactive. It’s about teamwork and collaboration. And, parents – recognize that you don’t know or understand the technology and ask for help!
  • Make it cool to do good things!

How can industry help educators to build that culture? What recommendations were made to ensure online safety?

  • Recommendations for Academia & Industry
    • Encourage contests to build skills – like Oracle’s ThinkQuest
    • Provide resources to help teachers teach – like ThinkFinity from Verizon
    • Create a coalition of companies to help educate on topics of online safety – like TeachToday in Europe
    • Best practices – Have School Liaison’s, Develop Standards, Fix the “Web of Deception”, Share technologies that you have created to make the web safer
    • Create a hub that will compile and share rule violator information (e.g. If someone is kicked off a one site for breaking the guidelines, they should be blocked from all sites including Facebook, MySpace, myYearbook, etc..). A hub protects sites sharing vulnerabilities with competitors.
    • Microsoft and WiredSafety are working to create a Stop Cyberbullying Toolkit on DVD. Also, WiredSafety has cartoon videos on the topic.
    • Bring back character lessons in school. Or, more accurately, don’t stop teaching “Be nice, share, etc…” in Kindergarten. Teach this online and offline – it must be systematic. Schools may have “acceptable use” policies but anti-cyberbullying is not included. The community must push administrations for this to become mandated. Also, search for keywords and block content that contains abusive content (i.e. fight video) and wait before publishing anything with these terms. Stop the “Famous” epidemic.
    • 4th and 8th grade assessments should include online safety education.
    • Utilize lesson plans from the Anti-Defamation Leagueon online safety and social justice.
    • Get educated on Cyber safety issues from sites like CyberSmart who tries to make teachers more comfortable with technology. [Ed. Note. – Of course, you can also call or email us too!]
    • Think like a Financial Services company. Manage your risk and make sure your site is safe. WiredTrust, kicking off this summer, consults with companies on how to be safe for kids.
    • QA Test your “Report Abuse” mechanisms.
    • For new & existing websites, have policies now. Examine issues, set rules, how do you administer them, what are the consequences for breaking rues, communicate it all the time. Get ahead of the curve.
    • Create kid advisory boards.
  • Recommendations for “Thinking like a kid”
    • Terms of Service and Privacy Policies need to be engaging and easy to understand. Maybe a game or cartoon or something. Obviously keep the full wording on the site for legal reasons, but make the important points easy for kids to “get” and make them want to read it.
    • “Report Abuse” is great but kids want to know what happens if they do. Make sure they understand who gets the information, what it is used for, will they get in trouble, etc… Also, a message to PARENTS: “Don’t freak out”, “Don’t overblock”. Just be responsible. Talk to your kids. Let them know it’s ok for them to talk to you. Make the Tell part of “Stop, Block & Tell” available.
    • Use Celebrities to publicize the issue about Online Safety and Cyberbullying.
    • Include them. Ask for their input. They are the Interactive Generation. They want to be engaged.
    • The future of eLearning is in the form of games. Why not create “Stop Cyberbullying” games for kids.
  • Recommendations for Government and Law Enforcement
    • Work with industy. Don’t just mandate. E.g. Mandated internet safety curriculum in schools is great but implementation is left ambiguous. Work with schools to set standards. There is a ton of free info out there. Help schools (with limited or no funding for this new requirement) to create a “youth industry safety council”. Get industry to donate.
    • Add a check box on all police reports for any crime that says “Interactive Technology Iniatied” to help track how much crime is coming from online issues.
    • Kids need to know there is someone they can call. Hotline maybe?
    • Set up a Parents Advisory Group for the Internet” like Singapore did.
    • Governments – Work with State Legislatures to get online safety as part of the required curriculum
  • Recommendations for the Media
    • Kids want a celebrity that speaks out for them. Need a baseline language between parents and kids to help both understand each other. You can help with this!
    • Know your audience. CMP InfoWeek/TechWeb knows that their audience are technology decisin makers at work, but also parents at home. You can reach them and educate them about online safety, cyberbullying and more through channels you already have.
    • and Johnson&Johnson teamed up to educate Moms on how to keep kids safe.
    • Report on relevent events. [e.g. Girl Scouts of Amera had a CyberSafety initiative that empowers girls in technology with a peer to peer approach and utilizing courses and tools they need to become leaders in this industry and in tackling this problem. Also, one school created a Take 5 Poster program where students had to create a poster of what they would do if they take 5 minutes away from the computer.]
    • Keep an eye out for new companies and new games focused on this topic and report about it. [e.g Sydney Safe Seeker is a game that will be released soon that gives parents a diagnostic view of their child’s vulnerability and the kids have fun playing it. It also teaches kids about being safe online. Studies have shown that there is 90% retention when learning through simulation.

What’s already being done today?

  • MySpace/Newscorp is sharing their sex offender database with state attorney generals.
  • AOL/Bebo is working to ensure that social networking is safe through initiatives like (which seems to be down at the moment). There’s also OnGuard courtesy of the US government. Make sure all the kids you know take the Social Networking Quiz.
  • WiredSafety has created a Safe Site Seal of Approval with age appropriate ratings.
  • Verizon created a grant program for students who could get through all of their security measures and then show Verizon how they did it. Verizon Foundationis focused on education, literacy and online safety among other things.

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