NCSA, a public-private alliance of companies, associations and government agencies dedicated to cyber security awareness and education, said 65 million young people currently use online social networking sites. According to a survey conducted by i-SAFE, 75 percent of students feel safe online, and 51 percent trust other chatters.
While the number of registered members and online activity continues to increase on these sites, NCSA warned that teachers and parents still lack the basic awareness and knowledge of this new social meeting place and how to communicate with their teens about being responsible and safe when creating profiles, blogging, using instant messenger (IM) or socializing online.
"Millions of teens use social networking sites to interact with their peers, but they are unaware of the threats these sites can pose," said Ron Teixeira, executive director of the NCSA. "This collaborative national effort is focused on encouraging teachers and parents to talk to their teens about safe online practices."
Through a collaborative effort with education, government and cyber security and safety organizations, the NCSA has created a "how-to" guide called, "An Educator, Parent and Guardian's Guide: How to Teach Young People Safe Online Practices." This guide provides tailored tips and guidelines for educators and parents to keep teens safe while socializing online, including security and safety tips that parents can use at home, including:
- Supervise computer use: Keep the computer in an open area, be aware of other computers and other devices children may be using outside of the home and consider installing software to control where children go online.
- Keep the lines of communication open: Use the internet with your child and familiarize yourself with their activities online.
- Be a technical geek: Secure the family computer by regularly updating the operating system and installing a firewall, and up-to-date anti-virus and anti-spyware software.
Participating organizations for this national awareness campaign include: AOL, BellSouth, BlogSafety.com, Business Software Alliance and CA.