For ParentsFor Teachers

The “What’s Your Story?” Campaign

By Lynette Owens

Today marks the launch of “What’s Your Story?”, a campaign designed to help educate kids, parents, and teachers about staying safe online. We are inviting anyone over the age of 13 in the U.S. or Canada* to submit a short video and impart some Internet safety advice to friends, family, and fellow online citizens.

The campaign’s name comes from the acknowledgement that anyone who has spent a lot of time online has a story (or knows of someone else’s): a time when you posted something that later embarrassed you, clicked on something that wrecked your PC (or made it sluggish of all of a sudden), or accepted a friend request you later wish you hadn’t.  We hope to provide a voice for kids, their parents, and their teachers to raise awareness by showing what they’ve learned (directly or indirectly) and how they do things differently as a result.

Internet safety for kids is reaching a critical point in many parts of the world.  Media headlines are becoming increasingly occupied by stories about kids bullying each other online, sending inappropriate photos of themselves through cell phones, or developing online relationships with strangers who have bad intentions.

As the Internet becomes more tightly woven into the lives of younger and younger generations, we cannot continue to let kids run around the Internet freely without guidance and rules about what’s ok and what’s not.  Most kids are wise enough to know the basic rules of online etiquette and behavior – be respectful, don’t do anything you’d regret later, keep your private life private – by simply extending what they do everyday to what they do online.

But even for these kids, there are hidden risks (security and legal issues, for example) that can only be avoided if they are made aware of them.   Some risks can simply be avoided by the use of technology that exists today.  It just needs to be employed, but parents and schools, too, need to be made aware of it.

The “What’s Your Story?” campaign is intended to be a step in that direction.

Contestants are encouraged to create meaningful, relevant content and to promote their videos to their online communities that will vote on their work.  This effort, combined with the input of an objective panel of judges from Trend Micro, Common Sense Media, Connectsafely, and the Identity Theft Resource Center, will determine the winners.  The wining entry will receive $10,000 and four runners-up will be awarded $500 for their entries in 1 of 4 categories:  keeping a good reputation, staying away from unwanted contact, sticking to (legal) age-appropriate content, and keeping cybercriminals away.

So, if you’re eligible, go ahead and enter the contest.  And tell everyone you know to view and vote.

For more information about the “What’s Your Story?” campaign, visit

*excludes Quebec

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