This article is sponsored by SafetyNet: Smart Cyber Choices®, an Internet safety program of the San Diego Police Foundation and the San Diego Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. To learn more about how to keep your kids safe online, visit www.smartcyberchoices.org.
With cyberbullies and sexual predators lurking around countless corners in cyberspace, the Internet is truly the wild west of our time. But, as our children become more and more savvy navigating the web, they also become more vulnerable to these threats thanks to increased time on social networks and other engaging but potentially dangerous websites.
That's why the San Diego Police Foundation has made it their mission to educate local kids and teenagers on the dangers of the unregulated web. In 2008, the SDPF collaborated with the San Diego Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force and launched SafetyNet, a program designed to keep kids safe online. From tips on how to avoid bullies to the dangers of committing reputation suicide (the result of sharing too much personal information online), the program walks impressionable youths through the dos and don'ts of online social networking and web consumption. To date, 45,000 local students have taken part in the program's helpful, 45-60 minute school assemblies.
But that is only half the battle. Parents play an equally important role in keeping their kids safe when they go online. Through their evening workshops, SafetyNet meets with classes of 75 or more adults, walking them through the crucial tips of monitoring how their kids navigate the web (email the San Diego Police Foundation to schedule a Parent Workshop).
Don't have time to attend a workshop? No problem. From Internet safety tips geared toward cyberbullying, child pornography and social networking to their interactive Parent eLearning Guide that gives parents comprehensive, step-by-step solutions to keeping their kids safe, the SafetyNet website is an invaluable resource. Or watch Calling All Parents, a three-part web series produced by NBC 7 and sponsored by ESET, that looks at the realities and risks teens face every time they open a web browser..
Sadly, these dangers are a reality for kids today, but by educating our children as well as ourselves, we can stay one step ahead of cyberbullies and sexual predators.