NetSmartz: Internet Safety Awareness
STATE OF NEW YORK
OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
ALBANY, NEW YORK 12224
Dear New Yorker:
More than 30 million children in the United States use the Internet as a tool to explore the world, share information and communicate with peers. Though the Internet is an innovative and exciting tool for learning and most who go online have a positive experience, we realize that it has the dangerous potential of exposing our children to predators, child pornographers and adults posing as children in unsupervised chat rooms. Trusting, curious and innocent children can be the target of exploitation and harassment.
Children and adolescents can also experience "cyberstalking" and "cyberbullying" which consists of harassment through unsolicited repeated electronic contact by fellow classmates or adult strangers. Teens and preteens may be victimizers as well as victims; they have been known to use email, chat rooms or instant messaging to send threatening, intimidating, demeaning, impersonating and/or sexually oriented communications to fellow schoolmates.
In recognition of the fact that not all roads on the Information Superhighway are safe to navigate, we have an Internet Bureau in the Office of the New York State Attorney General. This Bureau, which was one of the first of its kind in the nation, enforces a range of laws as they apply to Internet transactions, to ensure that New York's online consumers, children and businesses are adequately protected by state and federal statutes. As part of its mission, the Bureau also promotes responsible "rules of the road" in cyberspace, educates the public about harmful trends and their rights as Internet users, and lectures on basic technology and how to use it to protect Internet users and their children. Further, my office is a member of the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force designed to counter the emerging threat of offenders using the Internet or other online technology to sexually exploit children.
"NetSmartz" raises awareness about the dangers and benefits of cyberspace and reinforces proper online behavior for tech-savvy youth (5 to 17) with age-appropriate curriculum, exercises, games and activities. In an effort to minimize the chances that our children will be victimized while using the Internet and maximize their online experience, I am pleased to make available the NetSmartz curriculum to New Yorkers. Because this issue is critically important, my office will continue to be available to make presentations to youngsters and adults on how to better safeguard ourselves in cyberspace.
While knowledge is an important key to prevention, parents or guardians should still assume responsibility and provide guidance for their children's online activities and computer use. Let's work together to ensure that our youngsters' experiences on the Internet are safe, enjoyable and productive.
|The goal of the NetSmartz project is to improve young people's Internet safety awareness, prevent victimization, and increase online self-confidence.|
program entertains young people (ages 5-17) while educating them through
Internet safety presentations geared to their grade level. New Yorkers
will find the innovative NetSmartz Workshop materials user-friendly
and age appropriate. The presentations are tailored to the attention
span, interest, and maturity of the audience.
Children in kindergarten through second grade meet a robot by name of "Clicky," who introduces them to the "Webville Outlaws." These characters underscore the risk of giving out any personal information. Children in grades three through six are introduced to cyber- siblings "Nettie" and "Webster." Nettie and Webster talk to the children about online dangers. Teens have an opportunity to hear real life experiences from Amy, who at the age of 15 turns to an Internet predator for love and acceptance, and Julie, a teenager who left home for three weeks with a stranger with whom she had developed an online relationship. Unbeknownst to her, he turned out to be a convicted murderer. Activities also help teens understand Internet topics such as spamming, hacking, plagiarism, and piracy.
Integrating the Curriculum
library staff, and parents are encouraged to review the NetSmartz
Workshop resources. Exercises and activity cards are available for
teachers to integrate the Internet safety concepts into a core curriculum
and engage their students. Parents can choose from a wide variety
of resources including safety pledges, games, and articles to supplement
The material format is easy to read and adapt. The workshop materials can be used to plan and conduct Internet safety programs, assemblies, and classes for children and adults.
Staff from the Office of the New York State Attorney General are available to make presentations in schools and at other sites using this curriculum and other reference/outreach materials on Internet safety, privacy, and other tech issues.
NetSmartz Workshop is made possible via a public-private partnership
with the United States Congress, United States Department of Justice's
Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, National
Center for Missing & Exploited Children and Boys & Girls Clubs of