PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. — In today’s world, the internet has become a necessity for everything from keeping up with friends to learning new things to navigating the world around you. But it’s a necessity that can put people, especially kids, at risk if they don’t know how to use it properly. That’s why the Center for Cyber Safety and Education offered a special presentation at more than 100 elementary schools in the Tampa Bay Area to teach kids about the importance of online safety.
Here are five things to know about the program, Garfield's Cyber Safety Adventures:
- 10,525 3rd graders in Hillsborough, Pinellas, Manate, and Pasco Counties were taught about the dangers of cyber security for Cyber Security Day.
- As young as kindergarten, technology is becoming a part of kids' everyday lives, so experts say it is important to start teaching them potential dangers at a young age.
- Students were taught to never share personal information, to be aware of the photos they post, and to never talk to strangers online. They should only "follow" or "friend" people they already know in real life. The takeaway message is to "pause before you post."
- The Center’s Children’s Internet Usage Study of kids in grades 4-8 found that:
- 90% have at least one device (phone, tablet, or computer in their bedroom) to access the internet.
- 40% have connected or chatted with a stranger online. Of those youth, 53% shared their phone number, 30% texted the stranger, and 15% tried to meet the stranger.
- In addition, 79% of participating schools in Cyber Safety Day reported they don’t have a digital citizenship programs in place and 20% reported incidents of cyber safety.
- Since the fall of 2016, the program has already provided over 170,000 safety lessons in 23 countries. A study of over 1,000 students who participated in Garfield’s Cyber Safety Adventures saw an increase in their cyber safety knowledge by 36 percent.
The center offers more information for children, along with tips for adults and senior citizens.