McAfee kicks off UK cyber safety program for schools

“Children are increasingly technology savvy, yet they are not always so savvy when it comes to recognizing risk,” said Gert-Jan Schenk president of Europe, Middle East and Africa at McAfee, in a statement. “The Online Safety for Kids program allows our employees to use their expertise for the benefit of their local communities, and ultimately ensure that young people understand the risks involved with surfing the web.”

The Online Safety for Kids program offers a two-pronged approach, both designed to raise awareness of the potential risks and share knowledge about how to stay safe online. First, McAfee will staff volunteers to teach online safety courses at schools in the communities where employees live and work. And then, as part of a continuing education initiative, the in-class tutorials are supported by an online portal where schools, parents and kids can find helpful tips and information on safely navigating cyberspace.

The program is an outcropping of an already-successful program in the the US, aiming to help children understand how to stay safe online, both from predators and less disturbing threats like malware.

It’s clear that kids need more education in the area. A recent McAfee survey highlighted the need for more information around online safety when it was revealed that only 45% of parents have had a serious conversation with their child before they started accessing the internet about what they should and shouldn’t be looking at online. On top of that, only 56% of parents believe their child knows how to use the internet properly and confidently.

Industry organizations are recognizing the issue as well, as witnessed by the (ISC)² Foundation’s revamped Safe and Secure Online Program, which recently launched a new, interactive website, with the goal of enlisting and empowering parents and teachers to focus on cyber safety.

“Just as teachers and parents teach children physical safety skills – such as looking both ways before crossing a street – they must model this behavior in the cyber world,” said Julie Peeler, director of the (ISC)² Foundation, which focuses on childrens' cyber safety. “Unfortunately, they don’t always have the skills and knowledge they need to guide children as they navigate the online threats they face every day at school and at home.”

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