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4/12/2007
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Symantec Kicks Off Effort To Protect Kids Online

The security company's new Family Resource Web site offers tips, resources, and information about online threats and how to avoid them.

Four out of 10 teenagers say they have experienced some form of cyberbullying in the last year. Another 37% report that their parents have no idea what they're doing online.

These numbers from a February Harris Interactive poll point to a serious problem, according to security professionals at Symantec. To promote child safety on the Internet, the security company today launched a nationwide initiative to help parents educate their children about cyber safety.

Symantec unveiled the Family Resource Web site, which offers tips, resources, and information about online threats and how to avoid them. The effort is aimed at trying to narrow the gap between parents who have little to no familiarity with the Internet and their cyber-savvy children.

Marian Merritt has been named Symantec's first Internet Safety Advocate and will lead the initiative. "With direction and supervision, the Internet can be a positive, safe place for families to research, learn, communicate, and socialize," said Merritt in a written statement. "Symantec's family cyber security initiative is committed to arming digital families with the tools and resources to keep them and their computers safe online."

The mother of three school-age children, Merritt began championing cyber safety causes after realizing her community was divided between parents, who tended to lag behind in technology, and their children, who embraced computers, gadgets, and the Internet, according to a Symantec release. She will meet with teachers, parents, and children to discuss issues involving Internet safety.

The Family Resource Web site offers information on

-- How to protect children and families. The site offers advice about safely using MySpace, YouTube, and other social networking sites, along with information on cyber ethics, privacy, and instant messaging;

-- Talking to kids. For this, there is a checklist of what Internet safety topics parents should be discussing with their children, whether they are elementary school age, tweens or teens; and

-- Resources for parents. Symantec noted that parents should arm themselves with the latest news and information on safe surfing and searching, practical advice for recovering from identity theft, tips for protecting against phishing, and the latest news on viruses, threats, and other attacks.

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