As our society has progressed further into the digital age, the Internet has proven to be a critical education tool for children to have at their disposal.
In identifying all of the positive opportunities that it presents within the classroom, teachers along with policy makers, legislators and parents have also recognized the potentially life-altering dangers and risks it poses to minors, which is why I believe it is crucial for schools to incorporate Internet safety education into their curriculum.
The 2011 modification made to the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) known as the Protecting Children of the 21st Century Act reflects this recognition as it pertains to schools. Originally enacted by the FTC to require schools to address the concern that pornography was too easily accessible to children on the Internet, the 2011 revision included that a school’s Internet safety policy must also include “monitoring the online activities of minors and must provide for the educating of minors about appropriate online behavior, including interacting with other individuals on social networking websites and in chat rooms and cyber bullying awareness and response.”
The Protecting Children of the 21st Century Act looks great on paper, as it properly addresses the major concerns regarding children’s Internet activity like cyber bullying and sharing of inappropriate content, however, the unsettling statistics illustrating a steady increase in both instances among school age children indicates that the modified policy is not being adequately enforced.
One issue is that the legislation places too much expectation upon educators who are already experiencing budget cuts, teacher layoffs and widening teacher-student ratios. It is unrealistic to expect that they should be responsible for educating students on Internet safety, which entails keeping up with all new technologies to be able to properly monitor students’ activities on them, and also stay on track with their normal curriculum as well.
This is where private and public cyber security experts could really make a difference. These experts have devoted their professional careers to the issue of Internet safety. It only seems logical that a more effective way to implement Internet safety education into schools across the country would be to work collaboratively with them.
There are a rising number of programs bringing Internet education options to schools. Our site, Everloop.com, which is a safe social network just for children, partnered with McAfee, the world’s largest dedicated security system, to implement the McAfee Cares Online Safety for Kids School initiative.
Together, we aim to reach 50,000 school children by 2013, McAfee volunteers are traveling the country to teach kids in grades k-6th about positive steps they can take to use the Internet safely and be socially responsible digital users.
It is important to not only work to create programs and resources that provide options for students and educators, but that parents, teachers and school systems are aware that these options exist. Together we can create a safe environment online for the next generation, and the generations to follow.
Hilary Decesare- Co-Founder, CEO and Digital Child and Parenting Expert
Co-founder of Everloop.com, Hilary is an award-winning entrepreneur and is a digital child and parenting expert. Hilary developed the Everloop platform to give kids under 13 a safe, online homebase to connect with friends, play games, share pictures and music, discover new talents and learn.
Using state of the art safety, technology and moderation tools geared specifically for kids, she created Everloop to enable kids to take advantage of the opportunities of the internet without the fear of bullying or inappropriate conversations, and to provide parents peace of mind.
A recognized digital child and parenting expert and technology leader, Hilary was invited to The White House Conference on Bullying Prevention and is a frequent contributor on major news outlets. She has been a chapter director for Tweenangels, a division of WiredSafety that educates and empowers kids regarding Internet safety. She was recognized as one of AlwaysOn’s “Top 25 Women in Tech to Watch” in both 2010 and 2011 and was honored with the prestigious 2010 DEMOgod Award. In 2012, Everloop.com was honored with a Parent’s Choice Award and an Edison Innovation Award for websites for kids 8-13.
Previously, Hilary co-founded White Space Ink, a management-consulting firm that specialized in technology start-ups. She also worked at Oracle Corporation, a multinational technology company, where she garnered more than 100 worldwide managerial sales awards. Hilary is a mother of twin boy and girl teens and a tween. She is active in many charities, especially those geared toward improving the lives of children. She is also on the board of directors for the Max Cure Foundation, dedicated to finding medical cures that save children’s lives. Hilary graduated from the University of Colorado, Boulder, with a B.A. in Psychology.