Wow! I cannot say enough about how amazing the cyberIQ workshop that took place at IT-oLogy this past Saturday was. IT-oLogy teamed up with the Girl Scouts of South Carolina – Mountains to Midlands, as well as volunteers from SCANA, Sandhills School, AAC/Department of Education and BlueCross BlueShield of SC, to bring a workshop on cyber safety and awareness to middle school girls and their parents. Over 60 middle school girls and their parents spent their Saturday morning learning about social networking, cyber bullying, mobile devices and the dangers that are out there.
A huge thank you goes out to Deputy Tapler with the Richland County Sherriff’s Department, Rick and Cammi Stilwell, Dr. Joe Holt, Tran Nuyen with Verizon, Investigator Narewski with the City of Columbia Police Department, MariClare Martin and Grace Hunter. We are especially grateful for Representative Laurie Funderburk taking time out of her schedule present the keynote on cyber safety and what she is doing to help protect our girls.
I also would like to recognize the hardworking, dedicated group of volunteers who made this event happen. Without them, cyberIQ would not have been possible. Thank you to Martha Bode and Nicole Talton, SCANA; Christy Hall and Earnestine Beatty, Girl Scouts volunteers; Anne Vickers, Sandhills School; Deb Huggins, AAC/Department of Education; Lowndes MacDonald, DP Professionals; and Carol Wallace, BlueCross BlueShield of SC. I would also like to recognize the time, talent and resources dedicated to cyberIQ by Lee Morriss and Susan Schneider, Girl Scouts SC – MM, and Diedre Murphy, IT-oLogy.
Why was this workshop important? Here are a few facts from www.commonsensemedia.org:
- Facebook has more than 500 million registered users (Facebook, 2010). If it were a country, it would have the third largest population in the world.
- 73% of 12- to 17-year-olds have at least one social networking profile(Pew, 2010).
- 22% of teens check social networks 10 or more times per day (Common Sense Media, 2009).
- 54% of teens have joined an online community or social network group in support of a cause they care about (Common Sense Media, 2009).
- 48% of Facebook-using parents with kids under 18 are “friends” with their teens on Facebook (Retrevo, 2010).
- More than 30 billion pieces of content (web links, news stories, blog posts, notes, photo albums, etc.) are shared on Facebook each month (Facebook, 2010).
What did the girls and parents get out of cyberIQ? A LOT! Teens today live digital lives. Relationships are cultivated and managed via social networking, the internet and cell phones. Learning is done by interacting and connecting online. Cell phones are an everyday part of life for many teenagers. Living digitally is not a bad thing or a scary thing. We just want teens to know there can be dangers, they need to stay safe and they need to know what consequences are out there. Parents: the digital world is not a scary place! It holds great opportunity for children to learn, connect and interact. We want you to know what’s out there so you can have a real conversation with your child on how to play safe in the cyber world.
What do we want to see as the outcome of cyberIQ? We hope we started real conversations about staying safe online! Teens, talk to your peers and your parents. Parents, talk to your teens. Establish guidelines and rules that you both will follow. Respect each other, but understand the need for safety. An online pledge is a GREAT way to get started! We also got a lot of great feedback on how to make the sessions more interactive next time!
In the meantime, be sure to check out the following resources for great information:
Common Sense Media (www.commonsensemedia.org)
Great resources for parents, teens and educators on all things digital! Parents – do you need Facebook 101? Check it out here: http://www.commonsensemedia.org/advice-for-parents/facebook-parents.
Pew Internet (http://pewinternet.org)
The FTC has a number of resources available for both teens and parents! Check out their list of recommended websites, as well as order their free materials: http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/tech/tec14.shtm.
Some cyber bullying resources:
Information on Geotagging:
Stay tuned for more information in the near future regarding a resource page on the IT-oLogy website that will include presentations, links and more on cyber safety!
Want cyberIQ to come to your part of South Carolina? Let us know! We are currently working to scale this workshop across the state, and are in need of volunteers and sponsors to make it happen!