Advocates Join Together to Help Make the Internet Safer for All

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from Stephen Balkam, chief executive officer of the Family Online Safety Institute.

“A Safer Internet for All,” the Family Online Safety Institute’s (FOSI) sixth annual conference, brought together 450+ policy makers, industry leaders, educators, legislators, researchers and Internet safety advocates to discuss collaborative ways to harness the power of the Internet to do good online. Microsoft, a member of FOSI, supports the annual conference as a way to bring better awareness to the shared responsibility of staying safer online.

The two-day conference began with a very concrete reiteration of the need for science-based research on technology and its effects; the conference ignited around new research (commissioned by FOSI and conducted by Hart Research Associates) around perceptions of the “online generation gap” between parents and teens. Visit the executive summary for insights and key findings.

The conference explored the relationship between education, technology, development, youth and usage, mobile technology, privacy, and international and national policy.

Speakers included Nicolas Negroponte, founder and CEO of the One Laptop Per Child Initiative, who inspired the audience with real world insights into how technology champions education and development, and Nancy Lublin, CEO of Do Something, who spoke of progressive tech initiatives focused on averting challenging social issues such as teen pregnancy via a text message campaign.

Most important of all, the conference included a very distinct voice: teenaged students presented in panel learning groups, sharing their perspectives on youth and the Internet, education and technology, and how technology enables youth leadership. Educators asked questions, shared concerns and sought support on moving toward digital education in the classroom.

The necessity for collaboration reverberated throughout discussion. FOSI’s newly released research found 95 percent of teens feel safe online and 94 percent of parents feel their teen is safe online – which is terrific news – but this year we heard even greater need for listening and collaboration across students and teachers, teenagers and parents, government, private corporations and NGOs.

Resources like FOSI’s newly launched platform, A Platform for Good, can be the starting place for such collaboration and joint learning for improved digital citizenship. At the conference, FOSI announced new ‘Teach Parents Tech’ videos which provide the opportunity and tools for teens to engage with parents to teach them about technology.

Within the next several days, keynote and panel discussion videos from “A Safer Internet for All” will be available on FOSI’s website. Check here to watch.

We look forward to next year and to great work and industry collaboration until then!

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