FOSI Asks: What is Safe and Healthy Online Use?

November 8, 2011

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Beginning today, the Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI) will host its Fifth Annual Conference & Exhibition: “Evaluate. Innovate. Collaborate. Strategies for Safe and Healthy Online Use.” This two-day event, held in Washington, D.C., challenges an international audience of policymakers, Internet industry leaders, educators, legislators, authors, law enforcement, Internet safety advocates, teachers and technologists to explore the science and health issues related to children and the Internet: How can we find balance in our hyper-connected lives? When should parents address “digital drama” if kids misbehave online? What does privacy online even mean? What role does neuroscience play in developing healthy relationships online? Can social networking provide a platform for good?

At the conference, the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project will release a new study: "Teens, Kindness and Cruelty on Social Network Sites: How American teens navigate the new world of 'digital citizenship.'" The study, conducted by the Pew Internet Project in partnership with FOSI and with the support of Cable in the Classroom, explores the unique issues teens face when using social networking sites. In a keynote address, Amanda Lenhart, Senior Research Specialist at Pew Research Center, will discuss the teen experience on social networking sites and insights from the study.

The study found that 95 percent of all teens aged 12-17 access the Internet, and 77 percent of these users are active on social media sites. Sixty nine percent of teen social media users find social media networks to be “mostly kind” spaces. While 88 percent of teen social media users have witnessed mean or cruel behavior on a social media site, 80 percent say they have personally defended a victim of meanness and cruelty online. Eighty six percent of teens say they have received advice from their parents about how to use the Internet safely and responsibly; 70 percent say they have received advice from teachers and schools.

This year’s conference will feature more than 80 speakers, 26 exhibitors and hundreds of attendees from 10 different countries. Events will include presentations, panels and breakout sessions covering topics ranging from finding balance in our hyper-connected lives to neuromarketing to app technology. Ed Amoroso, SVP and Chief Security Officer for AT&T and Paul Howard-Jones of the Graduate School of Education, Bristol University will present keynote addresses at the conference. Dr. Margarita Cedeño de Fernández, the First Lady of the Dominican Republic, will also speak at the event.

Additionally, FOSI will release the State of Family Online Safety Report, derived from FOSI’s Global Resource and Information Directory (GRID). GRID is a tool used to evaluate the state of online safety in different areas of the world and serves as a single portal that monitors, tracks and provides commentary on the efforts of different countries in advancing Internet safety for their citizens.

“This year has seen proposed changes to important online safety regulations as well as ongoing technological innovation,” said Stephen Balkam, CEO of FOSI. “Our annual conference is aptly timed and brings together some of the world’s foremost authorities in online privacy and safety. It is through continued commitment to innovation, education and collaboration from industry, government, educators and digital consumers that we will make the Internet a safer and healthier place for families and children to learn and grow.”

“This year’s FOSI conference serves as a platform for industry leaders and online safety experts to launch new initiatives and discuss important new research,” said Kim Sanchez, chair of FOSI’s board of directors and a director of privacy and online safety at Microsoft. “It also facilitates dialogue among attendees with a range of viewpoints; this ongoing evaluation, discussion and collaboration is crucial to supporting technological innovation and furthering online safety for all.”

For more information about the conference, please visit the Annual Conference 2011 page on the FOSI Web site. Follow the conference on Twitter: #fosi2011.

About FOSI

The Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI) works to make the online world safer for kids and their families by identifying and promoting best practices, tools and methods that also respect free speech. FOSI is a trusted, international convener, bringing together leaders in government, industry and the nonprofit sectors to collaborate and innovate new solutions in child safety in a Web 2.0 world. FOSI’s members include: AOL, AT&T, BT Retail, Comcast, Disney, Entertainment Software Association, Facebook, France Telecom, Google, GSM Association, Microsoft, Motion Picture Association of America, NCTA, Nominum, Optenet, RuleSpace, Sprint, StreamShield, Symantec, Time Warner Cable, Telefónica, TELMEX, USTelecom, The Wireless Foundation, Verizon and Yahoo!.