A new Internet safety campaign launched by Time Warner Cable in conjunction with Common Sense Media seeks to educate kids, parents and teachers about Internet safety. Dubbed the Internet Safety Summer, the program includes a website and free access to the Common Sense Media Digital Passport app. TWC is reportedly spending $1 million to support the website, the app and a series of public service announcements.
With Time Warner Cable’s support, Common Sense Media is making their Digital Passport mobile app for Android and iOS operating systems available for free to the public through August. Designed for kids ages 8-12, the app features games and videos to teach kids the basics of being safe and responsible in the digital world.
“We are proud to partner with Common Sense Media to help families teach their kids fun yet invaluable lessons about how to safely use technologies such as the Internet,” said Glenn Britt, CEO of Time Warner Cable in a statement. “Children can be more exposed to the digital world when out of school, so this summer is an opportune time for parents to use Digital Passport and our new website to talk to their kids about this important issue.”
Helping kids deal with online safety is a good thing. The more programs the better. But are programs like these enough? Are we making a dent in the problem? Not according to a succession of polls and surveys that look at kids’ online behavior and parental awareness. [See Literacy 2.0, 6.9.13 ]
Perhaps, as Stephen Covey once said, the way we are looking at the problem is part of the problem.
Imagine you live in a tribal village that is under constant threat of invasion from neighboring tribes. You teach your kids to stay close and to beware of strangers. Is that enough? Do you stop there? No. The entire tribe is instilled with an understanding of the danger and how to respond. The threat and precautions are part of the tribe’s way of life. As soon as they can understand, and even before, children must be initiated into the culture of tribal preservation.
The threats that kids face in the Digital Age are endemic to their tribe. The task of self-protection is both personal and communal. Cyberbullying, online privacy, identity theft, digital piracy and the rest are threats to the whole tribe. They are whole-society issues that require whole-society solutions.
Instead of just telling kids how to be safe, we should make it clear to them that we are all charged with keeping the tribe safe by staying alert and knowing how to take appropriate action.
We need to create not just a summer of Internet safety but a culture of Internet savvy.