AT&T and Leading Child Safety Organizations Take Online Safety to the Classroom
Nation's Largest Broadband Provider and 4,500 D.A.R.E. Officers to Provide Online Safety Lessons to Parents, Students and Communities Nationwide
Dallas, Texas, August 20, 2008
AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T) today announced it is returning to the classroom through online safety education developed by the Internet Keep Safe Coalition (iKeepSafe) and presented by Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) officers. As the nation's largest broadband and wireless provider, AT&T has a longstanding commitment to protect consumers online and safeguard their Internet experience. The company offers parental controls for various communications modes such as Surf Smart (Internet at home), Wireless Smart (mobile phone), Watch Smart (TV) and Talk Smart (home phone).
Through the storybook adventures of iKeepSafe's Internet safety character, Faux Paw the Techno Cat®, elementary students grades 1-5 will learn about online safety, with emphasis on cyber-bullying awareness for fifth graders. D.A.R.E. officers will visit classrooms and present animated movies and books to students, then engage in educational exercises. AT&T will later join D.A.R.E. officers at community forums, where local residents and parents can learn about online safety and how they can keep their families safe online.
"Ninety percent of tweens report they have used the Internet by the time they are nine years old," said Brent Olson, AT&T assistant vice president of Public Policy. "That's why it's important for online safety education efforts to reach elementary-school-aged children, before they become active online users."
"It's equally important for parents, families, and communities to understand the current challenges involved in keeping their children safe online, whether over the computer or over the cell phone — which every parent of a texter knows is quickly becoming the primary mode of communication for today's tweens and teens," Olson added. "We are excited to join with iKeepSafe and D.A.R.E to bring these important messages to local schools and communities."
Approximately 4,500 D.A.R.E officers will be trained to present the program in hundreds of cities nationwide over the course of the 2008-2009 school year.
"This program uses positive messaging to teach children in an entertaining and effective way about online safety and about how to be good digital citizens," said Marsali Hancock, president of iKeepSafe. "Studies have shown that positive messaging resonates with children better than scare tactics. It's essential we deliver those messages when children are young and receptive —before they become 'experts' at digital communication."
"D.A.R.E America is proud to join with iKeepSafe and AT&T to assist in the vital work of helping our young people avoid and combat cyber-bullying," said Anita Bryan, deputy director for education, D.A.R.E America. "This destructive and hurtful behavior is a direct obstacle to the learning and growth that children may experience from healthy use of the Internet."
Along with its participation in the iKeepSafe and D.A.R.E. program, AT&T is also an active member of the Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI) — an international nonprofit organization committed to providing innovative solutions for family online safety — which will issue three studies focused on best practices in online safety education.
AT&T is also supporting a program through Enough Is Enough, an Internet safety organization dedicated to protecting children and families from the Internet dangers of pornography and sexual predators. The Enough Is Enough program targets at-risk youth, who have little to no parental supervision and are in an environment that makes them more susceptible to risky online behavior. The pilot program launches in Virginia in the fall, and the national rollout is next year. The Enough Is Enough organization will also distribute an online safety 101 kit for parents later this year, with tips and instruction from a variety of organizations and companies, including AT&T.
AT&T offers a full library of supportive Internet safety and security tips and interactive safety games for kids, all available at http://www.att.com/safety. In addition, consumers can go to http://OnGuardOnline.gov to review practical tips from the federal government and the technology industry to help them be on guard against Internet fraud, secure their computer and protect their personal information.
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