As technology has advanced in our lives…and increasingly the way in which we communicate, collaborate, consume information and content…I think the pace at which technology has evolved has probably outpaced some of the fundamentals that we’ve trained our kids on how to be safe in the world around us.
Because many parents did not grow up with technology, the things that we’ve long taught our kids around just basic human safety hasn’t included the recognition or awareness of all the potential of technology to provide both good and harm for kids. So, we’ve got to continue to alert folks to the value of identity protection and online privacy, and certainly help prepare teachers, family members and parents understand what this new world of opportunity brings, but also the potential threats it could have.
At Microsoft, we believe it’s our responsibility to help make the Internet a safer place for people, including children, to learn and communicate. Since we are often the ones driving a lot of this technology change, we have a direct connection to understand how these tools are used and how they should be effectively used. With today being international Safer Internet Day, the company is expanding its involvement and taking part in events across Europe, Asia, the Middle East, Africa and the United States and partnering with the Boys and Girls Clubs of America to engage with families about online safety.
Microsoft has recognized the importance of things like identity, and the integration of identity across a number of platforms and experiences. It starts with parental controls in Xbox…everything from not only providing parents the opportunity to monitor and control what games their kids are playing…but also to limit how many hours a day or a week a student is playing a game. That kind of control provides parents the power to make changes, but sometimes parents need support to understand those feature sets exist or how to take action.
I also think we need to teach students fundamental appreciation of the value of identity protection and privacy. In a world where this generation of students has become much more transparent…they share their likes and dislikes, who they are, etc…we need to sensitize them to the dangers and making sure that they can do that in the safest way as possible so not only their physical safety, but also their identity is kept sacred.
Microsoft has been committed to doing this for a very long time, both with regards to core ICT digital literacy training, but making parents more and more aware of the opportunities, and how to monitor their child’s safety. We’ve also made efforts to embed this technology to make it easier discover and more powerful and flexible to use in products like Xbox, Windows 7 and Internet Explorer.
Please check out our security, privacy and online safety awareness and education resources here — http://www.microsoft.com/security/resources/brochures.aspx You will find fact sheets and guidance on many computing and Internet safety issues facing consumers today, including cyberbullying, tips for Internet safety at home and at work…and even an online safety toolkit for businesses, NGOs, non-profits and schools.