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New game targeting tweens teaches online safety

A new game is now available for kids between the ages of 8 and 12 that is not only fun but teaches them how to stay safer while on the Internet.  The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children and Sprint announced that in honor of Internet Safety Month, the popular child-focused Internet safety website www.NSTeens.org has been expanded to include a new educational game created for the “in-between” tween audience of 8- to 12-year-olds.

The new game, “Tad’s Profile Panic,” teaches kids about what information should not be included in their online profiles.  Players help Tad clean up his messy profile by collecting the information that should be kept private while avoiding others who would dispense Tad’s personal information all over school.

Social networking stats

It is estimated that 73 percent of teens between the ages of 12 to 17 have social networking profiles. Around 86 percent of teens comment on the pages or walls of their friends’ social networking profiles.  The goal of the new game is to educate kids before they reach their teen years when use of social networking increases.

“Children learn in different ways and at different paces, but forms of education that combine fun with learning tend to be successful,” said Debby Ballard, director of Community Affairs for Sprint. “We hope that many young people will benefit from this new free game, and we are excited to enhance our partnership with NCMEC through this latest offering.”

In addition to online games, NSTeens.org has animated videos featuring a multi-ethnic cast of comic-book-style characters and accompanied by videos of real teens talking about their online experiences.  All NSTeens’ videos include activity cards to help teachers build the videos into their lesson plans and open a dialogue with their students.  The new game, as well as all of the content on www.NSTeens.org, is available in English and Spanish.

NCMEC created the popular website www.NSTeens.org in 2007 in partnership with Sprint with the objective of providing a resource for the often overlooked “tweens” who are ages 8 to 12. NSTeens is an expansion of NCMEC’s successful NetSmartz Workshop, which is a web-based safety program designed specifically for children.  Sprint provides funding for NSTeens through its Internet safety initiative, 4NetSafety.

Resources for parents, too

Both NetSmartz Workshop and 4NetSafety offer free resources to teens, parents, and teachers. Issues like online gaming, cyberbullying, and social networking are addressed through animated videos, games and other content.  Sincewww.NSTeens.org was launched, the site has grown and expanded with new content added each year.

During the 2009-2010 school year, the www.NSTeens.org website was visited by more than 268,000 students, parents and educators.  During the most recent 2010-2011 school year the number of visitors to the NSTeens website increased to more than 476,000.

Sprint’s 4NetSafety Internet safety program is conducted in partnership with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children and the National Education Association Health Information Network and Boys & Girls Clubs of America.  The program is funded through Sprint Project Connect(SM), Sprint’s charitable wireless recycling program. For more Internet safety tips or information about how to recycle a wireless phone and/or accessories, visit www.4netsafety.com.

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