April 17, 2013

April is Optimist International Internet Safety Month

On April 1, 2013, Optimist International shared on its Twitter feed that April was Optimist International Internet Safety Month. "Play a role in keeping youth and teens safe while online," it said as it provided a link to the page on the Optimist International website that describes the Internet Safety Program.

And that was the last I heard of that subject; however, it didn't occur to me again until last night that I hadn't heard of a single Optimist Club that was conducting an internet safety program. I find that sad for a number of reasons.

First, I'm a little disappointed that it wasn't on my mind. Internet safety, especially in light of bullying tactics that teens perpetrate on one another, should be on everyone's mind. We have to do all that we can to be sure that youths, young adults, and others feel safe, and are safe, when they use online media.

But I'm also sad to see that Optimist International hasn't followed up to encourage Optimist Clubs to participate. To be fair, there was a notice sent to members in an "Executive Update" message and the fact that it was Internet Safety  Month was posted on the organization's Facebook page; but posting notices doesn't encourage participation. That only provides information. Where's the encouragement to make sure it happens?

Internet safety is a broad topic that can be addressed from a number of different levels. Optimist Clubs and their members can be involved from teaching young ones not to share information online, and to know that not everyone online is their friend, to helping teens make good decisions about online sharing. They might even teach seniors and their peers how to avoid identity theft or give them tips about online etiquette.  I know I have a few Facebook friends that could certainly use the latter.

There are plenty of angles that Optimist Clubs can use to promote internet safety. I hope that more are inspired to do so. Soon.

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