On March 29th, the Family Online Safety Institute hosted a briefing featuring key trends and statistics from its most recent research survey, Online Safety Across the Generations. The 2018 report surveyed both parents and seniors about online safety and the concerns and benefits of using technology with their family, with oversampling among African-American, Latino, and low income families. The research was conducted by Hart Research Associates and supported by Comcast.
Patricia Vance, FOSI’s Chair and President of the Entertainment Software Rating Board introduced the event, thanking Senator Gillibrand for sponsoring the event venue. Vance introduced Online Safety Across the Generations, highlighting the current generation of adults who are teaching both their children and their own parents about online safety.
Trinity Thorpe-Lubneuski, Internet Essentials, Comcast, gave a research overview presentation and discussed Internet Essentials, a broadband adoption program that provides low cost Internet access, digital literacy resources, and low cost computers to low income families around the nation. Internet Essentials has reached six million people and addresses barriers to technology such as literacy and relevance.
Among connected seniors, the top concern about being online was identity theft. To combat this, 93% of online seniors have taken at least one step to protect their personal information online such as using strong passwords. Further, this study found that most seniors seek the help of their adult family members when having problems with technology, rather than tech support or community resources.
The second half of the study focused on parents of children age 2-17, with most reporting that technology makes parenting easier. Parents felt this way because technology helps with homework, keeps children entertained, and increases access to information. However, 28% of parents felt that technology makes their job harder. Even with this, parents still believe overall in the positive effects of technology use on their child’s life and only report a few negative impacts such as physical fitness levels and attention span issues.
There is one major concern that parents have in the digital age: content. 64% of parents feel worried about the things their child sees or hears when online. Another top concern is the amount of time that children spend online with 32% of parents citing this.
Despite concerns that parents have, the surveyed adults acknowledge that technology brings their family together. 57% see better communication within their family and eight in ten adults use technology to communicate with their elderly parents.
Thorpe-Lubneuski stated that Online Safety Across the Generations provides a complete picture of the challenges adults face while parenting their digital children and assisting their elderly parents. This survey provides industry with the ability to create products and programs to alleviate concerns.
Following the research presentation, Stephen Balkam of FOSI moderated a panel featuring Tony Williams, Comcast NBCUniversal; Rosa Mendoza, ALLvanza; and Michael Phillips, AARP. The panel provided commentary on the 2018 research report as well as the specific challenges that seniors, Latinos, and low-income communities face.
Each panelist agreed that a key takeaway from the report was the emergence of fear and distrust as an obstacle to getting online. All cited the need to better educate less connected users so they can benefit from being online.
The panelists shared what they thought made the current demographic of modern digital parents unique. Phillips identified with this greatly, noting his personal experience wherein children are the ones who are much more knowledgeable with technology, helping the older generations. Phillips spoke of an AARP tech program which connects young people with seniors to explain and help with technology issues. Mendoza saw similar instances in the Hispanic immigrant community with young children guiding their parents and older relatives. Williams noted that these parents are looking for more control - over content, screen time, and the online experience. By focusing on the “sandwich generation,” you can give families meaningful control of their interactions.
Williams then discussed some of the wider benefits of Comcast’s Internet Essentials program, noting the significant investment that families make when purchasing a new phone, tablet, or laptop. Williams spoke of the importance of community partnerships as those organizations will know the context of their constituents’ situations. Mendoza added that when partnering with Latino groups, it’s important for partners to provide resources in the language they prefer.
When asked about multi-generational homes, Mendoza mentioned it is often a language or educational barrier when explaining online safety and technology. She mentioned how children often have the responsibility to warn parents of scams because of the lack of understanding.
In a final question, the panelists contemplated what is needed in terms of legislation or regulation. Phillips stated how complex the issue of online safety is, with an example of telehealth services, and the need for policy to keep up with technology innovations. Equally important is the need for policy change that accounts for future innovations. Mendoza stated that this issue needs a wide variety of partners working together and specifically mentioned the need for stronger consumer privacy protections for every user. Williams agreed for the need for public-private partnerships and the importance of a framework, not guardrails, that will not stifle innovation.
Executive Director of External Affairs
Antonio (Tony) Williams currently serves as the Executive Director of External Affairs for Comcast NBCUniversal. In this position, Tony partners with Civil Rights, Consumer, and Community Based Organizations to advocate for free speech, civil rights, and economic inclusion in Technology and Media.
Previously Tony led outreach and partnerships for Comcast’s Internet Essentials program. Under his leadership Comcast build partnerships with over five thousand school districts and engaged more than nine thousand community-based organizations, government agencies, and federal, state, and local elected officials to spread the word. Today Internet Essentials is the largest and most impactful broadband adoption program in the world connecting over 6 million low income Americans to high speed Internet.
Tony currently serves on the boards of the Joint Center For Political and Economic Studies, Call 4 Action, Democracy Prep Congress Heights Public Charter School, Black Tech Mecca, and the DC Chapter of the New Leaders Council.
Prior to Comcast Tony worked for Senator Norm Coleman and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. He is a 2016 Presidential Leadership Scholar, holds a Masters in Journalism from American University and is graduate of Macalester College.
Entertainment Software Rating Board
As president of the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB), Ms. Vance leads the non-profit, self-regulatory body for the video game industry in the United States, which includes the assignment of age ratings to video games and mobile apps, enforcement of marketing guidelines adopted by the video game industry and operating Privacy Certified, an FTC-sanctioned COPPA Safe Harbor privacy seal certification program. Ms. Vance is also the chairperson of the International Age Rating Coalition (IARC), a ground-breaking global rating and age classification system for digitally delivered games and apps that reflects the unique cultural differences among nations and regions.
Ms. Vance also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences and was appointed to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration's Online Safety and Technology Working Group (OSTWG), which was established by Congress to make recommendations on the protection of children on the Internet through education, labeling and parental control technology.
Prior to joining the ESRB in 2002, Ms. Vance spent 18 years at Disney/ABC, with responsibility for the development of a broad range of new media and market initiatives. As Senior Vice President, General Manager of the ABC Internet Group, she oversaw the operations and strategic development of ABC-branded news and entertainment related web sites, and was also responsible for launching and/or managing several interactive entertainment and educational software publishing ventures, the direct response marketing of ABC programming and ABC's in-flight entertainment business.
Ms. Vance holds a B.A. in International Relations/Russian from Washington University in St. Louis, is the mother of two daughters and lives in New York, NY.
Senior Director of Strategic Communications and Research, Internet Essentials
Trinity Thorpe-Lubneuski serves as the Senior Director of Strategic Communications and Research for the Comcast Corporation’s Internet Essentials program. She is responsible for building innovative narratives for Comcast’s signature community impact initiative. Additionally, Trinity oversees research exploring the educational, economic, health, and social outcomes associated with internet adoption and use across multiple ethnicities and cultures.
Previously, Trinity was the associate director for the School District of Philadelphia’s Office of Accountability and Assessment, where she was recognized for improving communications across city departments. Prior to that, Trinity was a research associate with Pew Charitable Trusts, where she collaborated on federal legislation and authored numerous reports related to child welfare and education.
Trinity holds a B.A. in Psychology from Pepperdine University, and Master of Science in Social Policy and Master of Social Work from the University of Pennsylvania.
President and CEO
Rosa Mendoza Dávila is the Founder, President and CEO of ALLvanza and it is her vision, experience, both personally and professionally, and knowledge of underserved communities that gave birth to the organization and set the tone for the organization’s critical mission of ensuring Latinxs and other underserved communities have an equal opportunity for success in our technology-driven world. Rosa’s own experience as a first generation college student incited her passion and gives her the insight to advocate for this equal opportunity.
Prior to founding ALLvanza, Rosa served as the Executive Director of the Hispanic Technology and Telecommunications Partnership (HTTP) where she informed administration officials, congressional staff, state and local representatives and other stakeholders on how telecommunications and technology policy issues impacted the Latino community. She represented HTTP at meetings, conferences, conventions and industry gatherings. Rosa expertly analyzed telecommunications and technology policy to develop advocacy briefs that brought the needs of Latinos to the forefront.
Prior to joining HTTP, Rosa served as the Manager of Special Projects for The Raben Group, where she assisted clients with coalition building, strategic planning and research, with a particular focus on the firm’s LatinStrategies division. Rosa worked with clients such as MasterCard and Hispanics for a Fair Judiciary.
Formerly, Rosa served as the Assistant Finance Director for Congressman Henry Cuellar (D-TX). As the primary point of contact for Congressman Cuellar, Rosa communicated with donors and constituents, coordinated fundraising events and managed logistics.
Previously, Rosa was hired as the Media Relations Executive for the Hispanic Communications Network (HCN), which designs customized radio, television and print media campaigns for the Latino market. In this role, Rosa built relationships with media affiliates, assisted with program development, and helped execute the firm’s large-scale media campaigns.
Before coming to Washington D.C., Rosa was the Coordinator for the Chicano/Latino Cultural Center and the Principal Assistant to the director of the Office of Multicultural Student Services at Washington State University.
Rosa holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communication with an emphasis in Public Relations and a Master’s Degree in Education with an emphasis in Higher Education Administration from Washington State University.
Director of Technology Strategy Integration
Michael Phillips is the Director of Technology Strategy Integration at AARP and is dedicated to supporting AARP’s important social mission through technology. Michael has led internal and external technology initiatives at AARP for over 15 years, including technology industry partnerships, community programs, IT strategy, and championing innovation. Prior to AARP, Michael managed large-scale telephony projects for France Telecom and SATO Travel. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Mass Communication from Auburn University and Change Leadership Certification from Cornell University. He is passionate about empowering adults with emerging technology such as virtual reality, digital health tools and education programs so everyone can take full advantage of these amazing times and advocating for all generations within the technology industry.
Founder & CEO
Family Online Safety Institute
For the past 30 years, Stephen Balkam has had a wide range of leadership roles in the nonprofit sector in the both the US and UK. He is currently the Founder and CEO of the Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI), an international, nonprofit organization headquartered in Washington, DC. FOSI’s mission is to make the online world safer for kids and their families. FOSI convenes the top thinkers and practitioners in government, industry and the nonprofit sectors to collaborate and innovate and to create a “culture of responsibility” in the online world.
Prior to FOSI, Stephen was the Founder and CEO of the Internet Content Rating Association (ICRA) and led a team which developed the world’s leading content labeling system on the web. While with ICRA, Stephen served on the US Child Online Protection Commission (COPA) in 2000 and was named one of the Top 50 UK Movers and Shakers, Internet Magazine, 2001.
In 1994, Stephen was named the first Executive Director of the Recreational Software Advisory Council (RSAC) which created a unique self-labeling system for computer games and then, in 1996, Stephen launched RSACi – a forerunner to the ICRA website labeling system. For his efforts in online safety, Stephen was given the 1998 Carl Bertelsmann Prize in Gutersloh, Germany, for innovation and responsibility in the Information Society and was invited to the first and subsequent White House Internet Summits during the Clinton Administration.
Stephen’s other positions include the Executive Director of the National Stepfamily Association (UK); General Secretary of the Islington Voluntary Action Council; Executive Director of Camden Community Transport as well as management positions at the Institute of Contemporary Arts (London) and Inter-Action. Stephen’s first job was with Burroughs Machines (now Unisys) and he had a spell working for West Nally Ltd – a sports sponsorship PR company.
Stephen received a BA, magna cum laude, in Psychology from University College, Cardiff, Wales in 1977. A native of Washington, DC, Stephen spent many years in the UK and is now has dual citizenship. He writes regularly for the Huffington Post, appears often on TV and has appeared on nationally syndicated TV and radio programs such as MSNBC, CNN, NPR and the BBC and has been interviewed by leading newspapers such as the Washington Post, New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, radio and in the mainstream press. He has given presentations and spoken in 15 countries on 4 continents.