Making Cyber Safety Education Accessible at School
Today’s children are part of the digital generation. According to Common Sense Media, an estimated 43% of children ages 8-12 own smartphones, giving them unprecedented access to the internet. This can help open their world to education, creativity, and socialization, but unfortunately, also comes with risks. To help teach Cyber Safety skills to children and caregivers across America, Norton, a leader in consumer Cyber Safety and part of Gen™, collaborates with National PTA. National PTA is the nation’s oldest and largest child advocacy association dedicated to making a difference for the education, health, safety and well-being of every child and making every child’s potential a reality. Norton became a Proud National PTA Sponsor in 2013 and is the Founding & Presenting Sponsor of National PTA’s PTA Connected initiative, a broader digital safety initiative of the association.
As part of their work together, Norton and National PTA launched a free tool, The Smart Talk, which helps families have open, positive, ongoing conversations about digital safety and online privacy. The Smart Talk uses guided questions about social media and respect, using and downloading apps, texting and calling, and more to help families begin and continue conversations. Launched in 2015, The Smart Talk was then updated in 2022 to include inclusivity and content updates, and to extend its reach to new PTAs.
Are your kids ready to go back to school? Not sure where to start when it comes to digital safety and your family? Use our free, interactive resource to set healthy tech limits together: thesmarttalk.org.
The Smart Talk Conversations Reach Schools and Families Across the U.S.
To spread awareness of the tool, we provide local PTAs with funding to host The Smart Talk Conversations at their schools for families. In the 2022-2023 school year, National PTA chose 150 local PTAs to receive funding to implement the events for their school community. This is five times more than the previous year, and we are proud to have together met our goal to reach 180 PTAs over a two-year period. Grantees were in 33 different states and 56% were Title I schools (schools where many families live below the poverty line).
Collectively, more than 11,000 people attended The Smart Talk events in the 2022-2023 school year. The program implementation was so successful that 87% of PTA leaders indicated they plan to run the program again in the future.
Most importantly, students and their caregivers found The Smart Talk beneficial. From a sampling of nearly 400 respondents:
98% of students found the program easy to understand
94% of students wanted to explore the topic more at home
97% of parents and caregivers now feel more comfortable exploring the topic with their student
Supporting Our Youth and Volunteering Our Time
With the back-to-school season now in full swing, Gen employees are also working to reach schools and families all over the world.
From August through September, our employees in various locations – from the U.S. to Czech Republic to Ireland – will come together to lend a helping hand with in-person and virtual volunteer events. By packing school supplies, we’re able to make a take a small burden off of families and make a difference in the life of a young student.
With resources like The Smart Talk and efforts to support young learners everywhere, we’re able to help keep kids safe and prepare them for the year ahead. Kicking off their school year with the knowledge and resources to be successful is just one way we’re able to give and empower our local communities around the world.
We are excited to continue our volunteering efforts and our important work with National PTA, bringing tools like The Smart Talk to more young people and caregivers in the year ahead.