IBL News | New York
The FBI reopened its Safe Online Surfing (SOS) Internet Challenge for the 2019-20 school year, providing third to eighth graders the skills to safely navigate the Internet. Last year, more than 1 million students and 17,172 schools completed the program.
This free program, also available in Spanish, is created to promote cyber citizenship and help students learn about online safety while engaging in fun, interactive games, according to the FBI.
It teaches young people about web terminology and how to recognize secure and trustworthy sites. Other lessons cover how to protect personal details online, create strong passwords, avoid viruses and scams, be wary of strangers, and be good virtual citizens.
Each lesson is tailored to a grade level, and any public, private, or home school in the U.S. Teachers must register for a class to participate in tests and competition.
Each month during the school year, the classes with the top exam scores nationwide receive an FBI-SOS certificate and have the chance to be congratulated in person by local FBI personnel.
While the FBI-SOS website is accessible all year, the testing and completion only operate from September 1 through May 31.
“Many children and teens see Internet-enabled devices as essential to their lives—needed for everything from schoolwork to social connections,” said Unit Chief, Jonathan Cox, of the FBI’s Office of Public Affairs.
“The fact that these tools feel like second nature, however, makes it easy for young people to forget the risks they can face online. The goals of the FBI’s SOS program are to make children aware of these threats and give them the knowledge they need to steer around them.”