Tech Industry Leaders Convene to Teach Hundreds of Parents, Teachers and Children the Very Latest Tips for Staying Safe Online

City Hall – Speaker Christine C. Quinn today hosted hundreds of parents, teachers and children at NYCyber Safety Summit 2008, a forum that brought together leading voices in technology and internet safety, including Microsoft and Google, to provide a series of lectures, workshops and activities to help keep kids safe online. The summit makes New York City the first city in the country to host such an event.

Joining Speaker Quinn to kick off the event were Dennis Walcott, Deputy Mayor for Education and Community Development, and Rachel Dretzin, writer and producer of PBS Frontline Documentary “Growing Up Online.”

“The internet age presents a real dilemma for today’s parents and teachers,” said Speaker Christine C. Quinn. “On one hand, being savvy online is an increasingly important part of success in young people’s academic and social lives. On the other hand, while children may be wise beyond their years when it comes to using technology, they remain vulnerable to its risks, risks parents and teachers may not fully understand. NYCyber Safety Summit 2008 shrinks this knowledge gap, and will offer one-stop shopping where parents, educators and children can learn from the experts about best practices, new technologies and hidden dangers on the ever-evolving geography of the internet landscape.”

The day-long event, which took place at City Hall, featured separate activities for adults and children ages 9 – 18. While the adults listed to presentations from Microsoft, Google and the State Attorney General’s Office, children were broken up by age group and participated in activities and games of their own. In that way, all attendees received the information they needed to keep themselves and their loved ones safe in a way that was both educational and stimulating.

The internet has become an indispensable part of New Yorkers’ everyday lives, affecting the way they work, play and live. This is no different for children. More and more, young people use the internet to learn, to play games and to socialize. As the number of children online has grown, so too has the complexity of keeping them safe. While internet chat rooms, social networks and other interactive sites have made it easier to connect with people all over the world, they have at the same time exposed the young people that use them to new risks from online predators, cyberbullies and others who would use these technologies to cause harm. 32% of children have been approached by strangers online. 34% have seen sexual content they did not intend to see, one out of every seven children online has received a sexual solicitation, and 85% of children have been targeted by cyberbullies.

“The internet is becoming an increasingly valuable tool for educating our city’s children,” said Deputy Mayor for Education and Community Development Dennis Walcott. “But as our children spend more and more of their time on the internet, we need to be sure they’re safe while they’re doing so. NYCyber Safety Summit 2008 is an excellent opportunity to learn from the experts about the very latest in internet safety and steps we can take to make sure that all of our children’s online experiences are positive ones.”

“What does it mean to have a generation of teachers, most of whom are not fluent in the language of new technology, educating a generation of students who are native speakers?,” said Rachel Dretzin, writer and producer of PBS Frontline Documentary Growing Up Online. “How do parents, often far less savvy about the internet than their own children, act as their guardians in an online world filled with risks? How do we apply our own sense of privacy, formed in another era, to the transparent, digital worlds our children inhabit? These are only a few of the complex questions raised by the digital revolution, which is transforming our culture at a speed-of-light pace.”

In addition to Microsoft, Google and iKeepsafe, the Council has partnered with Parry Aftab, CEO of WiredSafety; “Internet Mom” Robin Raskin; Symantec; the New York State Attorney General’s Office; the New York City Department of Education; TeenAngels and TweenAngels; Web Wise Kids, Per Scholas and LAMP, each of whom will offer a presentation, discussion or interactive game related to internet safety. Attendees of the event will be encouraged to explore stations that will be set up throughout City Hall and participate in the activities that are of interest to them.

“As our world gets smaller, we continue to face new challenges keeping our kids safe and sound,” said John Burchett, State Policy Counsel at Google. “The internet has brought the farthest reaches of the globe into our living rooms. But with this great opportunity comes even greater responsibility. The NYCyber Safety Summit will provide an excellent chance to learn about how to help kids stay safe as they take advantage of all the internet has to offer.”

“Microsoft understands that empowering parents with the tools they need to navigate the increasingly complex online world is one of the most important responsibilities we have as a company,” said Anthony Salcito, Manager for Education, U.S. Public Sector at Microsoft. Events like the City Council’s Cyber Safety Summit are great ways to start these important conversations and to ensure that children and families can engage with the online world in a safe and healthy way.”

“The internet has made it possible for today’s young people to access an incredible wealth of information at the touch of a button,” said Parry Aftab, Executive Director of “But while the opportunity for learning has never been greater, neither has the risk. NYCyber Safety Summit 2008 is an excellent opportunity for parents, teachers and children to get on the same page when it comes to staying safe online and learn how to spot and manage those risks while having fun.”

“After 25 years of telling parents to become involved in their kids’ Internet life, it’s gratifying to see the Council develop a program that helps parents and kids learn to explore the best of the Internet while they learn to protect themselves from the worst,” said Robin Raskin, author and former editor of PC Magazine and FamilyPC.

“Just as families go on vacation together and select appropriate movies together, and they should surf the net together as well,” said Council Member Gale Brewer, chair of the Technology in Government Committee. “The internet is a great tool for learning and for fun, but we need to make sure our city’s young people are using it safely. NYCyber Safety Summit 2008 will help parents, teachers and children get the most out of the internet, and stay safe while doing so.”

“As the parent of three girls, I wish that these tools and this awareness had been there for me when my daughters were teenagers,” said Council Member Robert Jackson, chair of the Council’s Education Committee. “This is an important effort that will help parents to help their children.”