Garfield keeping children safe online.
©Paws, Inc

Keeping Children Safe Online: Safe and Secure Online

In KidBits, RiskyBits by Cameron BunchLeave a Comment

Keeping children safe online. Safe and secure online. Yes! Let’s do that! And let’s do it before the bad things happen. So that they never get around to happening. Let’s do it for other vulnerable people like seniors also. Let’s do it for ourselves. To do that you need good resources and support to help you out. The Safe and Secure Online program is one of those great resources.

UFearless is all about staying safe and secure online as well as staying connected and enabled. And keeping children safe online is something we care a lot about. So, let’s take a look at this program and see what it has to offer. We'll look at resources for children, seniors, parents, and leaders and educators.

Children, Safe and Secure Online

Let’s start with the kids because these are the most vulnerable players. They are the ones we must take responsibility for protecting. Kids are the main focus of the Safe and Secure Online site. The resources on it for supporting child Internet safety are truly exceptional and unique so, if there are any kids in your life, don’t miss out on this!

Keeping Children Safe Online With Garfield!

Kids all over the world love Garfield, right? Most of the rest of us love Garfield too, really, even though we might not admit it! (Aren't we stuffy sometimes?) The Center for Cyber Security and Education, who runs the Safe and Secure Online programs, has partnered with Jim Davis (Paws, Inc.), the creator of Garfield, to provide Garfield cartoons, comic books and similar material themed on privacy, posting, bullying, and more (to come). No one else has Garfield for this! These materials help kids understand how these things can go wrong on the Internet and thus what to do about it. This is in language they understand so it is fun and it gets their interest. In addition to the comics, it includes activities they can really engage with. For example it has interactive quizzes, crossword puzzles and word searches.

Now you know that Garfield, along with being an expert at sleeping and eating, is an expert at keeping children safe online!

Where To Find It

You can find the comics and other resources for keeping children safe online here: Are Your Kids Cyber Safe? Check it out. The resources are available as a digital subscription to be used at home as well as a resource kit with supplies for 30 children. These kits are perfect for schools, churches, and scout troops. They are also great for companies sponsoring “bring your child to work” events or any group or organization that supports groups of children.

The online resource offers the comic as a video by clicking the Watch button. The Try and Apply buttons provide access to activities that teach a child about  online security issues. At the same time that it entertains it is engaging their interest in cyber safety. Successful completion of the questions in the Apply section reward the child with a Certificate of Completion. You know kids love that kind of thing! I have gone through one of the lessons and I found it very engaging, entertaining, and educational. (I guess I’m just a big kid!)

An Interesting Fact About Dr. Cybrina

Dr Cybrina, cyber security expert. ©Paws, Inc

Dr Cybrina, cyber security expert. ©Paws, Inc

One interesting and subtle thing I would like to mention about the comics is in regard to the Dr. Cybrina character. Jim Davis created Dr. Cybrina specifically for this project. She is the cybersecurity expert so she helps everyone solve their cybersecurity problems. She is dedicated to keeping children safe online.

The selection of a lady cat to be the expert was no accident. There is a big shortage of cybersecurity professionals right now. And the existing workforce has only 11% women. Encouraging women to enter this profession is one important way to reduce the shortage. If young girls see a lady cybersecurity expert then they may begin to see this as a possibility for themselves. That would be a very good thing.

What Is Available

There are a lot of materials on their site for free. And the full set of resources is available for purchase at cost. Note that they are a nonprofit so they are just trying to recoup their investment. The following are a few things that stand out:

Digital Subscriptions

Digital subscriptions offer one year access to all online resources for $9.99 per year. This is perfect for just kids at home or for a home schooling student. At this writing three subjects, each with its own comic and other resources, are available: Privacy, Safe Posting, and Cyberbullying. Additional subjects are coming in the future so be looking for them. Currently English is the only available language for most resources but additional languages are on their way. You can access any additional material that becomes available during your one year subscription upon publication. You can find digital subscriptions here: Digital Garfield Cyber Safety Adventures; All Lessons!

Educator Kits

Educator Kits provide material for 30 children so they are ideal for schools or any other group or organization that supports groups of children. Kids can complete each kit in 20 to 30 minutes. At this writing Educator Kits are on sale for $65 per subject ($125 normally). Also for $180 you can get all three currently available subjects ($375 normally). The kits include teaching materials, comic books, posters, stickers, trading cards, and more. You can see exactly what is provided in an Educator Kit here: Educator’s Kit Lesson 1: Privacy

I had a recent conversation with Patrick Craven, Director of the Center for Cyber Safety and Education. He mentioned to me that companies that sponsor “bring your children to work” events are buying the educator kits. They do this to provide additional value and activities for kids during the event. This is a real win, win, win kind of thing. The kids win because they get smarter and safer. The parents win because their kids do. And because the event offers them more value. And because the kids are better occupied during it. The company wins because they have more to offer the kids and because employees are happier with their working environment.

It is really great to see companies participating in keeping children safe online so, more power to them! If this possibility might apply in your case consider asking if your company would be willing to do this. All Educator Kits can be found here: Educator Kits.

UFearless.net does not earn anything from sales of these products. But given the value and quality of them we want to support the project. And we do encourage you to buy them. For a few bucks you just might save your child or other children from real suffering.

Individual Home Packets

The Individual Home Packets which contain the Garfield comics along with a poster, a camera privacy sticker, and a trading card are offered for $5.99 per subject. Lesson bundles are also available.

Garfield’s Cat Treats

Yep! Cat treats. Well, maybe actually people treats but treats about cats. These are shirts, key chains, an “I’ll do it later” gift set, stuffed animal toys, and posters. You never imagined that keeping children safe online could be so much fun but it is! The proceeds from sales of these items go towards supporting the nonprofit project. You can see what’s available here: Garfield's Cat Treats.

Parents, Safe and Secure Online

This section really is not so much about keeping parents themselves safe, rather it is mostly about helping them help their kids stay safe. Keeping children safe online requires parents to know what online safety is all about and what the risks are. It would be great if we were born knowing all about doing that. But the simple fact is that we are not. Especially in regard to fast changing, technical issues like cyber safety so, as parents, grandparents, etc. we need a little help along the way. Here is some of what you will find here:

  • Videos: A set of short videos that discuss child safety topics such as access controls, social media, cyberbullying, online gaming, etc. These take the perspective of what parents should know.

  • Presentations and Tip Sheets: Tip sheets and presentations for parents on cyberbullying, social media, passwords, parent top tips, online gaming, glossary of terms, and shopping.

  • Garfield: This is where you find the Individual Home Packets mentioned above. The packets can be found here:  Individual Home Packets

  • Scholarships: Info on cybersecurity scholarships for the bigger kids. At the time of this writing most scholarships are closed but keep your eye on them for them to reopen. (Inside scoop: They are about to announce a new scholarship for US Veterans so watch for that).

  • Safe Shopping: A neat slide on the key factors to have in mind for online shopping.

A parent’s presentation is provided which offers an in depth look at all the material covered in the parent’s edition. This is great for group presentations. If you would like to volunteer to help other parents protect their children this resource will help you out.

Seniors, Safe and Secure Online

Keeping children safe online is the main thrust but there is more. Resources specifically prepared for seniors are available. This is important because more and more seniors are connecting. In many cases they have to connect just to do every day things. This includes things they used to do on paper or at some office location. And it is becoming a more and more important communications channel for them. But they frequently do not have the cyber street smarts needed to do all it safely.

The resources cover topics such as online banking and shopping, downloads and streaming, computer protection, data and picture backups, safe passwords, and scams.

Documents are provided online covering top online safety tips, creating passwords, avoiding scams, online banking, basic computer protection, and a glossary of terms.

A senior's presentation is provided which offers an in depth look at all the material covered in the senior’s edition. This is great for group presentations. Want to volunteer to help seniors be safer online? You can use this material to give them a presentation.

Educators and Leaders

It will be very difficult to make progress in keeping children safe online without the involvement of educators and leaders. These folks can influence many people and their help is essential. So Safe and Secure Online offers some valuable resources for educators and leaders to help them do exactly that.

The educator kits mentioned above, of course, are available to them. One thing that is very important for educators when considering adopting any program: Will it meet the applicable educational standards? They must comply with such standards in their institutions. The site has provided in depth documents that detail how the Garfield lessons meet ISTE, NHE, and AASL standards. These documents can ease the burden for educators who must evaluate those factors.

Another very interesting set of resources that are available are the group learning and 1:1 individual learning kits. There is a basic kit suitable for up to 20 students which is free. The following are available at cost: Group Learning Educator Kits. 1:1 Individual Learning. And Group Learning + 1:1 Individual Learning packages for classes up to 30 students. You can find these resources and see exactly what they provide here: Digital Citizenship Program

Volunteering

From the site: “Teach others in your community how to be responsible digital citizens. We have everything you need to make a difference in your community! The Safe and Secure Online educational program is simple to follow and present. We provide the resources you need to become a successful presenter, and you donate your time to making the cyber world a safer place.”

I couldn’t say it better so I didn’t try. Volunteering is a powerful engine that can move mountains. Being a volunteer can be a deeply rewarding experience. Your effort might save many children from the suffering that a bad online experience can cause. Or it might save just one child. But even if it were only one it would bring about unquestionable good. It might even save a child's life. And it is much more likely that you will touch the lives of many children. It can happen that way. Unfortunately the occurrence of the bad events is way too high. High enough that you can know with little doubt that your efforts will improve some lives. Possibly more than you might think.

Presentations are provided for children, parents, and seniors. The site also provides guidelines for reaching out to the community, a sample introduction letter, and a FAQ.

It Takes a Team

The Garfield cyber security team. ©Paws, Inc

The Garfield cyber security team. ©Paws, Inc

Keeping children safe online takes a team. We cannot do it well alone. Parents, family, educators, leaders, security professionals, and volunteers all need to work together to make it happen. The Safe and Secure Online program provides a unique opportunity to bring together the right people with the right knowledge, skills, and motivation. It provides both needed materials and ways of coordinating efforts. This is such a great opportunity that everyone who cares about the problem should participate. You very well might participate is other programs also. But, please, do not miss out on this one!

Donations

The Center for Cyber Safety and Education gratefully accepts donations. It is, after all, a not for profit organization and needs funding to accomplish its good purpose. Expanding the program. Adding new subjects with their corresponding Garfield comics. Adding more languages, etc. These are all things that require funding. Upon publication of a new subject it becomes available for all and donations really help fund new subjects. Upon the addition of a new language entire countries and populations can benefit. Donations help fund the addition of new languages.

Contribute to this excellent cause! You can find the contributions page here: Empowering People to Make the Cyber World a Safer Place

Digging Deeper: The Children's Internet Study

To properly design a program for keeping children safe online it is necessary to really understand the problem. That means research. The Center for Cyber Safety and Education in conjunction with (ISC)2, Booz Allen Hamilton, and Shugoll Research conducted a study of 4th to 8th grade children and their parents to develop a deep understanding of the children’s Internet related behavior. This complete report and a summary of it are available on the site.

You can find the report here: Children's Study

So, Who Is Providing This Anyway?

The Safe and Secure Online program is offered by the Center for Cyber Safety and Education, a 501(c)(3) non-profit charitable trust, which was formed by (ISC)2, the International Information Systems Security Certifications Consortium, Inc. as a means of reaching society and empowering the public in cybersecurity matters. I am an (ISC)2 certified security professional holding the CISSP (Certified Information Systems Security Professional) certification. (Enough alphabet soup yet?) You can see my Acclaim badge here.

I might also add that the Center for Cyber Safety and Education was named as the 2018 Nonprofit Organization of the Year by the Clearwater Regional Chamber of Commerce.

So, does the alphabet soup mean anything? I think the big take away is that(ISC)2 consists of the top cyber security professionals in the world. That is, this is coming to you from the folks who really know the territory. These are people who dedicate their professional, and in many ways personal, lives to helping us be cyber safe.

Naturally I like to support my certifying organization’s projects. But I am writing this only because I think it is valuable for you. And for your children or other children if there are some in your life, for your parents and the rest of your family, and for your friends and community. The people you care about.

Note: All prices quoted in this article are as of the date of the article. Prices might change afterward. Check the Safe and Secure Online site to be sure. Ufearless.net receives no part of any purchases of items mentioned in this article.

More Resources

There are a lot more resources available so here are few links that I think are of particular interest:

The A-B-C’s of Keeping Your Kids Safe Online

How do I keep my children safe online? What the security experts tell their kids

How To Keep Your Children Safe Online

How To Keep Your Children Safe Online

Conclusion

I think that this is a great program that is helping many children, parents, and seniors to be safer online and I feel honored to support it. Hopefully you will use it and support it also. The more support it gets the more people will benefit from it and the better off we will all be. I truly believe that keeping children safe online is one of the most important things that we can be doing.

I would love to know your thoughts about it so, please leave a comment and we can talk it over.

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