By Doug Park, Director of Online Safety for Xbox
Last week I had the chance to attend the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) and the Kids@Play Summit. It was great to see the newest products and ideas in consumer electronics while thinking about the online safety implications that come with each new innovation. A plethora of smart devices – from cameras on televisions to browsers on every device and unlimited content – are bringing connected entertainment to more people than ever before. At the same time, there could be new potential risks being introduced.
It all adds up to some common themes that were represented well at the Kids@Play Summit. Online safety and privacy awareness and education are critical for parents and children alike. Parental controls should be part of the conversation (and we have you covered for Xbox), but parental involvement is key. At the end of the day, we know you can’t be there to protect your children all the time, so we need to partner to give them tools for when they go it alone. It’s like teaching a child to always wear a seatbelt, not just when you are in the car to enforce it.
I was given a chance to present some of these ideas on the Taming the Reputation Monster panel, moderated by Larry Magid, Technology Columnist and Co-Founder of ConnectSafely.org. My fellow panelists included George Garrick, CEO of SocialShield, Clayton Ostler, Senior Director of Technology at ContentWatch (NetNanny), and Noopor Argawal, Senior Director of Public Affairs at MTV. As Larry noted near the end of our discussion, we were all somewhat surprisingly consistent with our outlook that there needs to be a balanced approach for addressing privacy and online safety needs for children and families.
Some of the common themes from our discussion included working to create safer online communities and combating digital abuse, as well as creating awareness of online monitoring tools and online safety education resources. We also agreed that parents are the "first line of defense" as kids and teens are increasingly connected and new gadgets are coming into the home. Parents need to take the lead in a continued discussion on acceptable technology habits with their children. It was a great panel to participate on.
The summit and CES were a good reminder that technology isn’t going to slow down and will continue to introduce new threats and risks. As a parent myself, it also increases the importance I place on having the right conversations regarding privacy and online safety with my own children (ages 5, 7, and 12). If you need help, check out the PACT on our site. It is an outstanding resource to start the conversation.
Today is international Safer Internet Day (SID), an annual event dedicated to promoting responsible use of the Internet and mobile technology, particularly among children and youth.
Organized each year by Brussels-based Insafe and co-founded by the European Union, February 8, 2011, marks the eighth installment of SID. This year’s theme focuses on “our virtual lives” under the banner, “It’s more than a game, it’s your life.” As in years past, SID 2011 is expected to spark hundreds of Internet safety-related activities and events by a multitude of participants in dozens of countries.
Microsoft was an inaugural participant in and has been a long-standing advocate of Safer Internet Day, particularly in Europe, the birthplace of SID. From conducting consumer research and raising awareness of online risks to partnering with industry and government and sponsoring educational programs, Microsoft has sought to demonstrate its ongoing commitment to a safer and healthier Internet for all.
This year, we’re expanding our involvement. In addition to events across Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia, we’re embracing the online-gaming theme, which is particularly relevant in the U.S. Microsoft is teaming with local Boys and Girls Clubs to sponsor a series of fun and friendly "Family ‘Online’ Game Nights", featuring Kinect for Xbox 360, the company’s cutting-edge interactive gaming experience.
The events will be held in three cities: Atlanta (February 8), Chicago (February 10) and Los Angeles (February 15). Participants will have the opportunity to play games, learn how to engage in game-play more safely and pick up educational materials about personal and family online safety. A Microsoft-commissioned survey of American parents of online gamers shows that parents and children spend a significant amount of time playing online games together.
Click here to learn more about the survey and read the rest of this post.
One of our Get Game Smart partners, Family Online Safety Institute CEO Stephen Balkam, recently wrote an article for the Huffington Post in which he noted that children and teens should be taught "digital citizenship skills" to help them share information in intelligent ways. Here's an excerpt from the post:
"While there is a recognition that there must be a base-line of safety -- using filters for younger kids and monitoring and privacy settings for the older ones -- the emphasis is now placed on education, media literacy and a new kind of civics. It's time for kids of all ages to understand and value the rights of free speech and assembly (ie, connecting through social networking and other means) as well as an expectation of privacy and safety."
Check out his post!
(Posted February 9, 1:07 p.m.)