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Is your family cyber safe?

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Beth Wheelock Tallon
June 25, 2013

This entry is written by Carrie Kulinski, Executive Director of the Boys & Girls Club of Janesville. She may be contacted at ckulinski@bgcjanesville.org

June is National Internet Safety Month, a great way to raise awareness about a serious matter. At the Boys & Girls Club of Janesville, we believe online safety should be a priority every month. Which is why we are doing an internet safety course for all of our members. Every member must complete the course before they are allowed in the computer lab. As digital natives, kids are at ease online and use the Internet skillfully. But that comfort frequently creates a misplaced sense of security, too. A new survey by the online security firm McAfee found that for all that Internet savvy, kids can be very naÔve about the online world.

While 94 percent of young people surveyed said itís dangerous to post personal info online, for instance, 93 percent do it anyway by posting private details online Ė names, email, where they live, where they go to school, etc.

Thereís also discrepancy in how parents and kids perceive online safety. While 71 percent of parents say theyíve discussed online safety with their children, just 44 percent of young people agree with that statement. In fact, 42 percent say their parents donít care what they do online.

Social media also factors into the online safety challenge, as 86 percent of young people say they believe such sites are safe. And 85 percent of 10 to 12 year olds, our tweens, use Facebook Ė even if theyíre not legally old enough to do so.

As mobile devices bridge a once gaping digital divide, itís vital we understand possible online benefits and risks to our kids. By doing so, we can foster constructive aspects, such as acquiring 21st century workplace skills and expanding learning opportunities, while reducing potential threats.

There's a lot of content out there. As adults, itís up to us to help kids differentiate the good from the bad. And to do all we can, always, to keep kids safe.



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