Posted by Jacqueline Beauchere, Chief Online Safety Officer, Microsoft

“You can’t cook unless you’re in the kitchen; you can’t swim unless you’re in the pool, and you can’t teach kids about digital citizenship without having a conversation with them about online safety.”  These are the words of Anne Collier, co-founder of Connectsafely.org, shared last week with school administrators, educators, parents, safety advocates, and industry leaders at the Digital Citizenship Summit held at Microsoft’s Mountain View, California campus.

The goal of the Summit was to galvanize key stakeholders and stimulate proactive conversations about how we must all come together to help teach responsible and appropriate use of technology, what Microsoft and others call fostering digital citizenship.  

Many schools do not teach or have access to a comprehensive, in-classroom online safety curriculum, even though experts and many Internet safety organizations identify education as an effective means of helping to protect children from online risks.  Microsoft believes online safety curricula should be an integral part of a school’s efforts to achieve technological literacy for its students, particularly as more students use mobile devices, including at school.  Indeed, data show 52 percent of youth ages eight to 12, and 77 percent between 12 and 17, own mobile phones

That said, while the bias for comprehensive, in-school online safety learning is clear, we are also well aware of the extraordinary demands put upon teachers on a daily basis.  According to one Summit panelist from the Santa Clara County Office of Education, local teachers are committed to requirements at 182 percent of capacity.  Accordingly, Microsoft favors integrating online safety tips and best practices into other mandatory lessons and learning.   

To help ensure our online safety, security, and privacy guidance is relevant and timely, we continually research the latest trends around various issues.
 
For example, we know from Microsoft’s recent Mobile Manners & Mayhem Facebook poll that nearly half (47%) of respondents have lost their mobile phone; exactly half have pocket-dialed someone, and more than half (58%) have shared their location, perhaps more often than they’ve needed to.   Oftentimes, our mobile device has just a much, if not more, personal information stored on it than our home computer.  Therefore, understanding how to protect one’s self and one’s device is paramount.

We also like to hear from individuals, parents, and other interested groups what matters most to them about online safety.  So, we host regular @Safer_Online Twitter chats.  Most recently, we heard from Jessica T. and Jeanine S., who each won a Windows Phone 8* for taking the poll.

In today’s digital world, it’s important for all of us, not just formal educators, to champion online rights and responsibilities as digital citizens.  Microsoft is committed to helping empower people with the appropriate tools and resources to help keep us all safer online.  Learn more about living your digital life to the fullest, and help teach others, by consulting our Digital Citizenship in Action Toolkit.

For additional guidance, regularly check our Safety & Security Center, where all of our tools and materials are housed.  “Like” our page on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter.  Get proactive and get involved – in online safety. *Attendees participated in the MICROSOFT MOBILE MANNERS & MAYHEM SILICON VALLEY SWEEPSTAKES. NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Open only to U.S. residents age 18 and older. Game ended May 31, 2013. See our official rules for details.