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Promoting online safety for kids
1/14/2004

 
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TORONTO - A coalition of Canadian media, technology and telecom companies, led by Media Awareness Network, has launched a new public awareness campaign called "Be Web Aware" to help protect children from the risks of the Internet.

National partners Microsoft Canada and Bell Canada are leading the campaign with assistance from Alliance Atlantis, Canadian Association of Internet Providers, Canadian Library Association, CanWest Global Communications, CHUM Television, Corus Entertainment, Craig Media, CTV and its specialty television networks, ctv.ca, globeandmail.com, msn.ca, Rogers Communications, Shaw Communications, Sympatico.ca and Telus.

Helping Canadian parents protect their children from potential Internet risks is the focus of Be Web Aware ( www.bewebaware.ca).

Research by Media Awareness Network - Canada's leading Internet education organization - shows that Canadian youth are among the world's most active Internet users with 80% having regular access at home. More than half use the Internet with little or no supervision. Yet 25% of young Canadian Internet users have been asked by someone they've only met online to meet face-to-face. Fifteen percent have gone to meet an Internet acquaintance face-to-face; and almost two in ten of this group went to these meetings alone.

The Be Web Aware initiative includes public service announcements (PSAs) on television, radio, print and outdoor that direct parents to the web site which was developed by Media Awareness Network and is full of information and tools to help parents teach their children to handle the potential risks associated with going online. The television and radio PSAs in English and French will run to April 2004. Print PSAs will run until the end of March 2004. All creative for the public service announcements and the web site were designed and donated by ad agency MacLaren McCann and Corus Entertainment (Interactive division).

"Few parents understand their kids' Internet culture and the more complex issues of safety, privacy, online predators and cyber bullying," said Jan D'Arcy, executive director, Media Awareness Network. "It's essential for parents to be involved in their children's online activities and to help them develop good judgment and critical thinking skills to deal with situations, information and people they encounter online. This initiative is unique in that it's the first time organizations have rallied together to develop a comprehensive, educational campaign for parents."

"As founding sponsor of the Media Awareness Network, the Be Web Aware campaign is part of Bell Canada's ongoing commitment to our subscribers to create an online experience that is simple, smart and safe for all online Canadians," said Pierre Blouin, president consumer segment, Bell Canada.

"As a company whose focus is largely on the great opportunities associated with the Internet, we've learned about its dangerous dark corners from our experience working with organizations like Media Awareness Network and the Toronto Police," said Frank Clegg, president of Microsoft Canada. "Microsoft has a basic responsibility to do whatever we can to help parents protect their children on the Internet, and awareness is the first step."

Media Awareness Network is a non-profit Canadian organization whose mission is to support and encourage media and Internet education, and its widest possible integration into Canadian schools, homes and communities. Our aim is to help people, particularly children and youth, to develop an informed and critical understanding of the nature of the media, the techniques used in creating media products, and the media's role and influence within society. www.media-awareness.ca.
 
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