#ISC2Congress: Garfield Helps Keep Children Safe Online

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The Center for Cyber Safety and Education – formerly known as the (ISC)2 Foundation - have teamed up with cartoon character Garfield to develop cartoons, comic books , posters, trading cards, stickers, and other materials to help educators and parents teach children how to protect themselves online.  

The Garfield initiative is part of the Center’s latest enhancements to its Safe and Secure Online program. So why Garfield? Pat Craven, director for the Center for Cyber Safety and Education, told Infosecurity that Garfield was selected as the character of choice because he has worldwide recognition, multigenerational appeal and credibility with children. “Garfield gives us instant credibility with students, as well as teachers and parents who have grown up with him. He has the ability, by virtue of being a cartoon, to make a complex subject approachable, fun and easy to understand. He also has a cool factor with youth because he doesn’t follow the norm.”

The Garfield materials will be part of a new educator’s kit, which will be available for teachers and group leaders to download and teach a group of students, aged 6-13, how to be safe online. 

The first lesson, to be part of a new Educator’s Kit, will focus on privacy. Future lessons will address the dangers of posting online, etiquette, cyberbullying, and more.

Pat Craven, director for the Center, said, “Children are still making alarming choices online, despite having a level of awareness of the dangers. Parents and educators clearly need more effective tools to reach kids about the consequences of their online choices. Garfield has universal appeal and credibility that will resonate with children.”

While keeping children safe online is the primary objective, Craven admits that a secondary objective is to give children exposure to the information security field in the hope that they may later consider it as a career choice.

“The program does focus on safety, but we share (ISC)2’s mission to attract more people – women and minorities in particular – to the field,” Craven told Infosecurity. “One way we’re doing this through Safe and Secure Online is with the introduction of the cartoon character, Dr. Cybrina – a female CISSP – who is in all the Garfield materials. We chose her intentionally to help us demystify the field and remove the barriers – especially for girls – and invite them to consider information security as a possible career path.”

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