As our regular readers may have noticed, I’m interested in the Internet. Its creation was a phenomenal achievement and it lets me—and uncounted millions of others—communicate with each other with the speed of the electrons that convey our messages. However, as someone immersed in crime prevention, I also know that the Internet presents dangers to young people and adults alike, and because of that, it’s important to keep prevention in mind as we go about our lives. Thus, the U.S. Senate’s unanimous approval of National Internet Safety Month is a positive move.
The bill itself does not reflect particularly well on the Internet; it largely focuses on the number of people who use the Internet, the number of children who are hurt on the Internet, and the abstract “dangers” that the citizens of the United States face while online. However, while the bill’s preamble paints an ugly picture of online life, the bill’s details are precisely what this blog often urges: that citizens spend a month learning about the dangers of the Internet and about the importance of staying safe online, and that “Internet safety organizations, law enforcement, educators, community leaders, parents, and volunteers to increase their efforts to raise the level of awareness for the need for online safety in the United States.” The commentators on slashdot, where I first read about this bill, largely attribute sinister motives to the bill, assuming that it was passed to help someone make money. Indeed, many fail to mention the need to prevent cybercrime, reveling in conspiracy theories instead. Unfortunately, people do get hurt online from things that could otherwise be prevented. If Americans spend some time making prevention a part of their daily lives, including their lives online, much of this hurt could be prevented.
In celebration of National Internet Safety Month, I’d like to highlight some of NCPC’s online safety resources. If you’re a parent and you’re concerned about your children’s use of the Internet, be sure to see our advice for parents, and show your children McGruff’s advice about online safety. For yourself and your community, be sure to read our advice on technology safety, as well as our tips about preventing fraud. Celebrate National Internet Safety Month by teaching yourself and your family to prevent crime online, and you can reap rewards the whole year.