Posted by Jacqueline Beauchere
Director, Trustworthy Computing Communications, Microsoft

In a bid to uncover what teens know or have been learning about staying safer online, Microsoft recently launched its first-ever Safer Online Teen Challenge. We’re eager to see how teens interpret the wealth of advice and guidance being developed by Microsoft and others in the technology industry, as well as governments, non-profits and youth advocacy organizations. 

Teens between the ages of 13 and 18* are encouraged to create and submit original works that champion one of many key messages about being smarter and more secure on the Internet.  Creations must be submitted by April 12, 2013, and Microsoft’s hundreds of thousands of Facebook fans will vote to select winners in five inspired categories: song, story/cartoon, skit/presentation, survey and video. All submissions require English translations, but works are welcome in any language and from essentially every corner of the world.

We plan to feature the winning entries on Microsoft‘s Web properties – visited by millions – and fun and educational prizes will be awarded to the most popular and compelling submissions. The contest starts right in time for the December holidays, so teens can imagine and create their visions over their school break. 

Microsoft has been helping to keep children, teens and adults safer and more secure on the Internet for decades. We refer to this work as fostering digital citizenship – encouraging and motivating all individuals to be responsible, informed and appropriate users of technology. We offer a host of resources at our newly designed Safety & Security Center and on our Facebook page. (Click “Resources” to view all materials.)

We’re hoping the Challenge will produce new and inventive ways to better educate parents and caregivers about keeping kids safer online. Sometimes, the most compelling guidance about reaching youth comes from the minds and mouth of the young people themselves. Topics such as identity theft and avoiding phishing scams, preventing online bullying and safeguarding digital reputations are all fair game for Challenge entries. 

So, whether you’re a concerned parent, teacher, coach, counselor, an astute policymaker or a savvy software developer, we’re hoping you know a teen or two who may be interested in taking up our Challenge. For a complete list of rules, eligibility, and entry requirements, go to http://aka.ms/SOTeenOfficialRules. For additional inspiration about Challenge topics and advice, consult our Digital Citizenship in Action Toolkit. “Like” our page on Facebook, and consider following us on Twitter. Now, get working on those entries! 

*(Except where noted.)