I was born in the early 1980s, right on the cusp of the transition from Generation X to the Millennials. This placed me squarely within a unique period in the history of broadband technology: I’ve both never known a time before the Internet, yet also experienced first-hand the growing pains of a burgeoning Internet culture.
In the beginning the Internet was thrilling, fun, and maybe even a little dangerous. Online, anything felt possible. There wasn’t anything I couldn’t say, do, find, or learn. I could be whoever I wanted to be, go wherever I wanted to go. My parents and teachers didn’t fully understand this new technology and they didn’t have a playbook for how to walk me through an astoundingly open and accessible web. Who should I trust? How should I behave? How do I stay safe? It was up to me to carry the real-world values my parents had taught me over into digital spaces. But it wasn’t always easy to separate right from wrong.
Today, we better understand the role the Internet plays in a young person’s academic and social life. We know how to set appropriate boundaries and how to engage the realities of open communications technology with respect, not fear. And we know how rich the opportunities afforded by the Internet can be if we teach kids how to become better digital citizens.
Cable has long focused on providing the knowledge, skills and tools to help families make wise media and technology choices. Our goal is to recognize and embrace the empowering opportunities that come from this new media space, but to acknowledge the risks as well. Today, we’re asking for your help in making the digital ecosystem a better place.
Safer Internet Day, February 9th, offers the perfect opportunity to contribute to this balanced perspective. This year’s theme, “Play your part for a better Internet,” emphasizes working collectively for a better and safer Web. The flagship U.S. event will be hosted by our friends at Connect Safely and will be held at Universal Studios Hollywood. If you can’t make it, it will be live streamed.
NCTA was proud to be the host site for the very first US Safer Internet Day in 2014, and we continue to be an enthusiastic supporter of this initiative as we strive to make everyone’s digital experience better, safer, and smarter.
You can do your part by sharing the family pledge on your social media channels and amongst your community. Doing so can start important conversations about the smart use of technology. Download the initiative’s partner toolkit for sample social media, text, and images.
And for further information on how you can get involved and promote Safer Internet Day, visit http://saferinternetday.us/get-involved-2016/. For more information about strategies for engaging your children in important discussions about online risks, privacy protection, and digital citizenship, be sure to visit ControlwithCable.org.
I hope that you join me in creating a better and safer Internet.