Kitsap schoolchildren to benefit from Internet safety program
By STEVEN DEDUAL
Central Kitsap Reporter Staff writer
September 10, 2009 · Updated 4:33 PM
A statewide program that uses video games to help students, teachers and parents better understand safe use of the Internet and other technology has been implemented in 70 schools in the Seattle area and could be coming to Kitsap in the near future.
Carol Urton, director of project management for Web Wise Kids, said the program started with 70 pilot schools, but the company will be spreading the program once tests in the pilot schools are deemed successful.
“It is our intention to bring the program to every school in the state,” Urton said.
Washington State Attorney General Rob McKenna and Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn partnered with the Entertainment Software Association Foundation, the entity which funded the program, and Web Wise Kids to train educators on how to use the program.
“The devices that kids love, from smartphones to computers, are also being used to subject them to cyberbullying, scams and online stalkers,” McKenna said. “This program deploys a technology that’s very familiar to kids — video games — to teach important lessons about staying safe in cyberspace.”
“The Internet has become a vital tool in students’ education,” Dorn said. “But like all tools, kids need a rule book, one that helps them understand potential dangers. The Web Wise Kids program will give them valuable lessons on using the Internet safely.”
The program includes three customized video games, Missing, Mirror Image and Air Dogs which teach students how to be safe and responsible online.
The games teach kids to recognize online predators, scams, cyberbullying and other online dangers. The games also warn kids about the consequences of downloading illegal content.
Michael D. Gallagher, president and CEO of ESA, said they are happy to help with such a worthy cause.
“The ESA Foundation is proud to provide the resources to launch this cutting-edge initiative,” he said. “With the industry presence of Microsoft, Nintendo and other leading video game companies, Washington is a natural fit for launching this program. Working together, we believe the Web Wise Kids program will help educators teach Washington’s youth how to stay safe online. We applaud Attorney General McKenna’s and Superintendent Dorn’s leadership on this issue and appreciate the opportunity to help protect Washington’s children.”
Judi Westburg Warren, president of Web Wise Kids, also thanked Dorn and McKenna for their forward thinking.
“We are excited to be part of this important initiative that will help to educate and empower students with the knowledge and programs to safely navigate the Internet,” she said. “Our goal is to create a safer, friendlier online experience for millions of young people, and Attorney General McKenna and Superintendent Dorn are taking us all one step further to accomplishing that shared goal for Washington.”
The program could be seen in Kitsap as early as October and should be available to children throughout the state by mid to late fall. For more information on the program, visit www.webwisekids.org.Contact Central Kitsap Reporter Staff writer Steven DeDual at firstname.lastname@example.org or (360) 308-9161.