DC students get word out on Internet safety
By Nick McLain | [email protected]
Saturday March 1, 2008
You don’t have to look far for horror stories on the Internet these days.
Stories about identity theft, nasty computer viruses and, as shown in the NBC series “To Catch a Predator,” the threat of sexual predators, abound.
But some Decatur Central High School students are hoping to educate the public on Internet safety tips in a new series of public service announcements (PSAs) to be released in mid-March on Brighthouse and Comcast networks. Brighthouse financed the $100,000 campaign.
The students are members of the Net Literacy club at DC, and the aim of Net Literacy is to increase Internet literacy and to offer safety tips for those browsing the Web. The Safe Connects part of Net Literacy is what the latest series of PSAs focuses on.
It offers tips on how to deal with cyberbullies, predators, spyware, viruses and identity theft. With the popularity of MySpace and Facebook among young people, the message comes at an important time.
“I’m on MySpace, and you get messages from people you don’t know, who may look nice enough, but you can’t judge just based on appearances,” said senior Sarah Jones, 18, one of the students who appears in the PSAs.
Senior Ian Trusedell, 18, is on the board of directors at Net Literacy, the Web company behind the campaign. The company encourages youth involvement even on its board.
Trusedell approached his fellow classmates about being in the advertisements.
“Ian came up to us and asked us, ‘Hey, do you want to be in a commercial?'” senior Cindy Cicierko said. “I said absolutely. It’s for a very good cause.”
The other DC students appearing in the PSAs are junior Laney Wilson, 17, and senior Sean Bundles, 18.
“It’s great to see students so engaged,” said Net Literacy chairman Don Kent. “They’re a great group of kids and deserve the recognition.”
Cathy Tooley, the director for ICE, a creative small learning community that the students are part of, had equally high praise for the youth.
“The way students get portrayed on TV, you’d think they’re all thugs, but they’re not,” Tooley said. “This is the reality, this is normal: good, smart, well-spoken kids who really care about what’s going on in the world.
“They are just great kids, DC’s finest.”
In addition to the PSAs, the students will have a 45-minute production on Internet safety for the middle school students.
After the Safe Connects campaign, the students hope to move on to help another Net Literacy specialty, Computer Connects. They hope to refurbish 60 computers to be used by those in the community who don’t have regular computer access. Net Literacy has increased computer access to over 60,000 individuals in four states.
The DC students hope that the Net Literacy club continues to grow. After Trusedell graduates this year, freshman Josh Mannix will take over as president.