Respected Athletes Help Children Learn to Navigate the Internet Safely

REDMOND, Wash., Nov. 27, 2000 — Twelve-year-old Brian loves to use the computers at the Pieper Boys and Girls Club of Greater Milwaukee. But even at 12, Brian knows that kids need to learn how to stay out of trouble when they use the Internet:
“You might go on the wrong Web site and enter the wrong thing, like your address or something, and you might end up having to pay someone a lot of money.”

Whether it’s on a city street or a
“cyber-street,”
a neighborhood across town or a neighborhood online, children need to be safe, secure and smart. According to a recent survey, more than 32 million parents and 25 million children ages 2 to 17 are online in America, and the growth in the market is fast and furious. The number of children online has tripled since 1997 — including almost a 40 percent jump in the last year alone.

As part of its commitment to providing children with guidelines for safe online behavior, Microsoft today announced the Internet availability of Stay Safe Online, a 15-minute animated tutorial that teaches children safe online practices. Offered free of charge at http://www.msn.staysafeonline.com/ , the program integrates three strategies to help ensure that kids have a safe and positive online experience: education, adult supervision and technology.

“As the Internet becomes more and more a part of our everyday lives, Microsoft wants to make sure that using it is a safe and positive experience for kids,”
said John Litten, a former educator and Microsoft’s Youth and Learning program manager.
“The best way to do that is to teach the kids with a format that is not only instructive, but fun for them to use.”

Last year, Microsoft teamed up with the Boys & Girls Clubs of America and NBA star Shaquille O’Neal to create Stay Safe Online. For the past 18 months, the program has been tested in 15 rural and urban Boys & Girls Club technology centers across the country.

Brian and his friends Symone and Terelle have all played the
“Stay Safe Online”
game numerous times at the Pieper Boys and Girls Club.
“I like Stay Safe Online because it’s very fun and you learn while you are playing the game,”
said Symone, 12.
“It tells kids rules like not giving personal information out on the computer and not to give out their address and phone number.”

A cartoon version of Shaq introduces Stay Safe Online, then four cartoon children lead the kids through a 10-15 minute animated program that reinforces six important guidelines for online safety. (See side box.) At the end of the program, after learning how to stay safe on the Internet, kids can play a
“Free Throw Hoops”
or
“Global Treasure Hunt”
question-and-answer game to test their online safety knowledge. They receive a
“Stay Safe Online”
award signed by Shaq after they have answered all of the questions correctly.

Ice skating star Tara Lipinski has also been promoting Stay Safe Online.
“Most of the fans who visit my Web site are 11-15 years old,”
said Lipinski.
“I want to make sure that when kids are using the Internet, they know which sites are safe and which are not. Kids love computer games, and Stay Safe Online is a wonderful way to introduce them to the idea of online safety.”

Parents as well as children share a number of Internet security concerns. According to a new survey on child safety on the Internet by Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates and commissioned by Microsoft, parents are very concerned that their children will visit inappropriate Web sites or make contact with inappropriate strangers. Additionally, most of the parents surveyed were not aware of available resources to help them guide and regulate their children’s Internet experience.

In conjunction with Stay Safe Online, as a resource for parents, Microsoft is launching Safe Internet (www.microsoft.com/Privacy/SafeInternet/), a Web site with information for adults about protecting personal information online.

Microsoft is also a founding member and active participant in GetNetWise ( http://www.getnetwise.org/ ), a program that provides critical resources to parents and caregivers to help ensure that the Internet is a safe, educational and entertaining place for young people to explore. GetNetWise includes a glossary of Internet terms, a guide to online safety tools and great sites for kids to visit. The GetNetWise coalition of Internet industry corporations and public interest organizations aims to bring Internet users just one click away from resources that can help them make informed decisions about their family’s use of the Internet.

“Technology can and should enhance the learning process for every child in America,”
Litten said.
“At Microsoft, education is the most important application of our technology. Our Youth and Learning Initiative highlights the different ways that the company makes a positive difference for young people not only in school, but after school and at home.”

Access is a key factor in the effort to assist in the success of today’s students. As a technology leader, Microsoft has established various corporate support programs to help make technology and the Internet accessible for all children and youth.

Throughout the 2000-2001 school year, Microsoft’s Washington2Washington program will link classrooms in Kent, Wash., and Washington, D.C. for interactive learning and collaboration. The two classrooms are using computers, digital cameras, a dedicated Web site, Pocket PCs and various software to work together on field trips, classroom visits and class projects.

Microsoft’s Connected Learning Community (CLC) grants provide significant cash and software donations on a local level with the goal of using information technology to enhance learning and communication for disadvantaged communities. Now in its fourth year, the CLC program has allocated 145 grants in 27 states and Washington, D.C. Cumulatively, awards have totaled more than $1.9 million in cash contributions and $6.9 million in software.

Technology training programs such as the Microsoft Classroom Teacher Network and teacher.training@microsoft.com as well as rich learning resources such as the Encarta Reference Suite 2001, enable Microsoft to work with teachers, educational organizations, community groups and businesses to make learning tools and educational content widely available.

To help more teachers develop skills and strategies to use technology in the classroom, Microsoft in January announced a $344 million (estimated retail value) software donation — the largest in the company’s history — in support of Intel’s Teach to the Future program, a worldwide initiative to provide technology training to more than 400,000 classroom teachers.

Brian, Symone and Terelle all plan to use computers and the Internet throughout their lives. Brian has already created his own Web page, and Terelle plans to use email when he gets older to communicate with people he hasn’t seen for a long time. Symone put it simply:
“I love using computers.”

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