The NetSmartz Five

Back Issues

June 2014
5 ways to celebrate
Internet Safety Month

1. Kids may be excited to relax this summer, but we don’t miss a beat! Be sure to check out our blog for tips and updates all summer long.

2. Before school lets out, be sure to prepare children for a safe summer by giving a NetSmartz presentation. Our presentations for kids, tweens, and teens feature age-appropriate safety tips and practical advice about staying safer online.

3. Stay up to date with Club UYN on This month, watch our latest contest winner’s video about protecting your personal information.

4. With school out, learning may be the farthest thing from a child’s mind, so encourage tweens to play our free NSTeens games that reinforce the online safety lessons you taught this year. They’ll forget they’re learning and will stay sharp all summer long.

5. Are you following us on Twitter? Well, what are you waiting for? We’ll be tweeting all about #InternetSafetyMonth, sharing interesting articles, and updating you on our resources.

“Internet Safety Month is important because it gives us a chance to pause and come up with even better ways to keep kids safer online.”

- Clicky, Internet safety spokesrobot,
  We’ll be taking a break from the e-newsletter this summer to make some improvements. Thank you to everyone who responded to our recent survey. We’ll be looking closely at your feedback and working to improve this resource in time for the new school year. Enjoy your summer!  
Email/NetSmartzKids @NetSmartzKids
May 2014
5 things you need to know
about the Internet of Things

1. The Internet of Things is a network of physical objects connected to the Internet. Take a look at this infographic and video to get a better understanding of how so many everyday things are getting connected.

2. Products like smart thermostats that allow you to control the temperature of your home from anywhere and a smart toothbrush that rates and provides feedback on your brushing habits are popping up everywhere.

3. Experts estimate that the amount of things connected to the Internet will exceed 50 billion by 2020.

4. Some tech experts are concerned about security and privacy. They say the Internet of Things not only collects more information, but makes more information vulnerable.

5. As the Internet of things grows, cybersecurity will become more important. Check out this NetSmartz tip sheet to learn how to keep your information secure.

“I don’t think anything this big has been tried before. This is how we will make machines, people and data work together.”

Ted Colbert, CIO at Boeing
New York Times

  June is Internet Safety Month! Tell us how you plan to celebrate and you could be featured in our next issue. Send your plans to:  
Email/NetSmartzKids @NetSmartzKids
April 2014
5 ways you can influence your
community through technology

1. Technological advancements have presented countless opportunities for people to influence their communities. Volunteer search engines, such as All for Good and Volunteer Match, make it easy for people to find volunteer opportunities in their communities.

2. Encouraging kind words and taking a stand against cyberbullying is another great way to make a difference. The mobile app STOPit! offers a place to report offenders and the Facebook app Stop Bullying provides information on how to deal with bullies.

3. Many causes take a significant amount of money to start and sustain. Websites like Kickstarter and Heifer International allow people to fund creative projects or provide resources for struggling communities all across the world.

4. For teachers, collaborative learning programs like ePals and iEARN-USA give teachers a unique opportunity to connect students to different parts of the world. These programs allow children to learn from their peers and engage in an exciting study of different cultures.

5. Another great way to influence the community is to promote child safety. NCMEC’s Take 25 campaign encourages adults everywhere to pledge 25 minutes to talk to children about safety.

“Everyone can get involved in NCMEC’s Take 25 campaign by pledging to take time to talk to children about safety, sharing the Take 25 message and resources, and encouraging others to begin a dialogue with children. Be an advocate for child safety in your community!”

The Take 25 Team

  Do you own any everyday items connected to the Internet like a baby monitor or even a smart refrigerator?

Tell us about your favorite Internet gadgets and you could be featured in our next issue! Send your response to:
Email/NetSmartzKids @NetSmartzKids
March 2014
5 things to know about
girls in STEM fields

1. To combat grim statistics which indicate that women only make up 24% of jobs in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields, more and more opportunities are popping up for girls in these areas than ever before.

2. Some toy companies, like Goldie Blox and Roominate, are steering away from gender-based marketing and selling building toys designed to stimulate innovation and creativity.

3. Historic organizations, such as the YWCA and Girl Scouts of America, which offers over 30 badges for STEM-related activities, are actively encouraging girls’ interest in STEM fields.

4. Camps like Girlstart and Camp Reach make STEM learning fun by giving girls creative, hands-on experience with scientific experiments and engineering concepts.

5. Check out the NSTeens video Attitude Overdrive to meet Becks, the ultimate gamer girl. Video games are a great way to introduce more girls to STEM.

“We need to have more girls interested in math, science, and engineering…We’ve got a whole bunch of talent that is not being encouraged.”

President Barack Obama

  Have you ever signed an online pledge or donated to an online campaign?

Tell us how you used the Internet to influence your community and you could be featured in our next issue! Send your response to:
Email/NetSmartzKids @NetSmartzKids
February 2014
5 ways online communities
have tipped the scales of justice

1. Some online communities have been involved in recent high profile cases, such as the Steubenville rape case, where the attention and information spread online led to the indictment of several adults allegedly involved in a cover-up.

2. The Internet often looks out for the underdog. After a video of bus monitor Karen Klein receiving heartbreaking jeers from students was posted to YouTube, sympathetic online bystanders raised more than $700,000.

3. Fortunately, not all cases of online communities rallying together for justice involve heartache. Ethan Whittington began an online campaign to raise money for Glen James, a homeless man who turned in $40,000 he found in a duffle bag.

4. The Internet can also influence political change. Facebook slogans like “We Are All Khaled Said” and hashtags like #SudanRevolts were instrumental in organizing revolutionaries in Egypt and drawing attention to political efforts in Sudan.

5. Online communities are easy to join and a great way to stay up-to-date on issues you care about. The NetSmartz blog is an excellent way to stay connected and learn more about digital trends and Internet safety.

“I am amazed. I've gotten the nicest letters, emails, Facebook messages. It's like, wow, there's a whole world out there that I didn't know. It's just really awesome."

- Karen Klein, Today

  Have you heard of any cool opportunities for girls interested in STEM fields?

Tell us and you could be featured in our next issue! Send your response to:
Email/NetSmartzKids @NetSmartzKids
January 2014
5 things to know about
comics in the classroom

1. The use of comics in the classroom has piqued the interest of so many educators that the popular comic fan conference, Comic-Con welcomed educators last year to a panel discussing the value of graphic textbooks.

2. A 2013 study showed that students were able to retain more information after reading a graphic textbook than reading a traditional textbook.

3. Organizations such as Reading with Pictures advocate for the use of comics in the classroom by emphasizing the positive impact comics have on improving literacy and writing skills.

4. There are several websites teachers can use to create comics to fit their own lesson plans or to get ideas from other teachers around the world, including Bitstrips for Schools and Pixton.

5. Comics can also be used to teach Internet safety. Stand By or Stand Up?, the first interactive webcomic from NetSmartz, allows kids to determine the outcome of the comic while learning the consequences of each action in the process.

Many children will read comics even when they won’t read traditional chapter books. When we integrate educational content into comics, we talk to children in a familiar – and beloved – language. Suddenly, the lesson becomes enjoyable, relatable, and hopefully, more memorable.

- A. Rushing, NetSmartz writer

  How can the Internet be used to influence change or fight for justice?

Tell us and you could be featured in our next issue! Send your response to:
Email/NetSmartzKids @NetSmartzKids
December 2013
5 things to know about
educational games

1. Many educators are exploring how gaming can enhance education. These teachers are using games like Angry Birds and Minecraft to engage their children in the learning process.

2. Gaming is increasingly being used to generate student interest in STEM fields. This new initiative gives students an interactive lesson in city planning with a popular video game.

3. Some game creators are focusing on more than math, science, and language skills. This developer is using games to teach children about empathy.

4. Educational games can be a great tool to teach Internet safety at home and in the classroom. Rescue Run, our newest NSTeens game, encourages tweens and teens to save their friends from meeting people offline.

5. Some teachers have taken educational games beyond the screen, like this teacher who transformed her second grade classroom into a living video game.

Check out these comments from students playing our games on

“This is so fun and it teaches too. Thanks, NSTeens!” – Ava

“This game is really fun and it sends children everywhere a really good message.”
- Reynnah

  Have you ever used comics in the classroom? Tell us how they’ve helped your students learn!

You could be featured in our next issue! Send your response to:
Email/NetSmartzKids @NetSmartzKids
November 2013
5 things to know about
preschoolers online

1. Children are going online at younger and younger ages. This infographic from Common Sense Media shows a rise in young children’s use of mobile devices, mostly to play games and use apps.

2. Not all parents give their young children access to the Internet. This mom wasn’t so thrilled that her toddler was playing with an iPad at preschool.

3. Internet time = screen time, which experts have long warned about for young children. Read this pediatrician’s tips for parenting the touchscreen generation.

4. Many websites cater to preschoolers and focus on learning through play, including PBS Kids, Scholastic, and Sesame Street.

5. NetSmartzKids e-books can be a great way to give preschoolers a fun learning activity online.

Last month we asked what your preschoolers were doing online. One of our readers, Jeff McNickle responded on Twitter:

“I have a 3-year-old and she watches PBS and Disney Junior for video and games, but only when Mom and Dad are with her.”

Thanks, Jeff! What a great idea to make Internet time a family activity.

  Do you use educational games in the classroom? Tell us how they’ve helped your students learn!

You could be featured in our next issue! Send your response to:
Email/NetSmartzKids @NetSmartzKids
October 2013
5 things to know about
digital footprints

1. According to this study, most parents are concerned about what their teens do online and how their digital footprints might be monitored by advertisers, future employers, and others.

2. A new California law requires websites to remove anything a teen posts online if they request it. Supporters say this so-called “eraser” law would give embarrassed teens a chance to delete something they regret.

3. College-bound teens should consider that what they post online might be seen by admissions staff. This quiz was created by an educator and encourages students to clean up their digital image before applying.

4. Teens don’t always realize how much information others can find out about them online. Use this new video from NetSmartz to start a discussion with teens about their digital footprint.

5. Simple tools, like this flashcard from A Platform for Good, can go a long way in reminding teens to be careful of their online image. Get more flashcards like this here.

Last month we asked if teens should be worried about their digital footprints. One of our readers, Sakima White, responded on Facebook:

“I definitely think they should. Things from their past can haunt them later on in life. I have always heard that once you put something on the Internet, it’s always out there.”

  Do you have a preschooler? Tell us how they use the Internet!

You could be featured in our next issue! Send your response to:
Email/NetSmartzKids @NetSmartzKids
September 2013
5 things to know about
protecting children from inappropriate
content online

1. This parenting website asked moms what they worried about when their kids are online. Their #1 answer? Exposure to inappropriate content.

2. Studies have shown that exposure to obscene content can have a negative impact on children. Learn more about the research and what you can do to protect kids.

3. Sometimes children accidentally see inappropriate material while using search engines. To help them avoid
it, learn how to turn on the SafeSearch feature on
Google, Yahoo!, and Bing .

4. Teachers often worry that their students will see something inappropriate while using the Internet in
class, especially when showing videos. Services like YouTube for Schools and SchoolTube help by only hosting educational videos.

5. It's never too early to teach children what they should do when they see something inappropriate online. Take a look at our newest video that teaches kids it's OK to tell a trusted adult when they see something that upsets them. Kids can even enter the accompanying movie poster contest to win some amazing prizes!


It's time for our annual Hispanic Heritage Month Safety Poster Contest!

This year's theme is Cyberbullying: Recognize, Reject, and Report. The contest is open to eligible fifth graders. For information on how to enter, please contact Ana Cody at

  Do you think teens should be worried about their digital footprints? Why or why not?

You could be featured in our next issue! Send your answer to:
Email/NetSmartzKids @NetSmartzKids


August 2013
5 New NetSmartz Resources To Kick Off Your School Year
    2013 Internet Safety Presentations - These updated PowerPoint presentations for tweens, teens, and parents feature new videos and tips.
"It's OK to Tell" - In our newest NetSmartzKids video, Clicky, Nettie, and Webster race to stop Look-At-Dis Louie from spreading bad pictures online and turning the whole town gray!  
    "6 Degrees of Information" - This new video
encourages teens to ask themselves two
questions-"What information about me is online for
people to find?" and "Do I want them to find it?"
    Rescue Run - In our latest NSTeens game, players race to stop their friends from meeting face-to-face with people they met online. Rescue Run will be available online at, as well as on Apple and Android devices.  
    Stand By or Stand Up? - In this first ever interactive comic on, tweens decide if they will become a cyberbully or stand up to them.  
“I always check in with NetSmartz at the start of the year. They’re my go-to source for new and fun Internet safety lessons. Clicky has a way of really connecting with kids. Even students who have graduated tell me ‘I remember that Internet safety robot!’”

Loretta B.,
K-5 computer teacher

July 2013
    We use different ways to communicate. This blogger discusses how we've moved from face-to-face communication to electronic.
    We use new words. Here's a list of the 10 best words the Internet has given us.  
    We don't have to sit in a classroom to learn. This infographic shows the Internet's impact on education.  
    Our brains are different! Watch this video to learn how the Internet has affected brain development.  
    We date onscreen first. A recent study revealed that more than a third of new marriages start online.  
      Like NetSmartz Workshop  
“Online dating was actually easier than I thought it would be. My first and last online date was with my now husband. I think what makes it easier for people and why it has become a success is that it takes rejection out of the equation. It’s easier to handle people not responding to your messages than it is to hear someone saying they are not interested in you to your face.”

Laura Pirro, CT
June 2013
    Some parents want to block pornography, some want to monitor Facebook, and some want to track their child's every move with GPS-enabled smartphones. This article discusses the different ways parents are using software to keep an eye on their kids.
    The number of filtering and monitoring software programs available might make your head spin. Check out this search tool from GetNetWise to narrow down your options.  
    Your child's smartphone is essentially a small computer. This article outlines the parental control options offered by major cell phone service providers.  
    Although software can help keep an eye on your kids, technology can't solve every problem. Watch our parents' presentation to learn about the issues and how to talk to your kids about their Internet use.  
    Schools utilizing filtering software may think their work is done, but students can easily find online tutorials to get around them. Stay one step ahead with these tips to prevent students from bypassing your filters.  
“We know that filtering software is just one instrument in our toolkit to protect students from harmful material online. Our annual Internet safety program educates students about safe and appropriate online behavior. Teachers also realize that 'the filter' is no substitute for proper supervision of students' in-school digital activities and that vendor-provided whitelists and blacklists are not set in stone. We frequently review and revise these lists to ensure students have access to valuable content online."

Ken Quisenberry
Director of Technology
South Bay Union School District
(San Diego County, CA)
#NetSmartzKids Email
May 2013
    To understand new trends in social media, you have to start at the beginning. Learn about the history of social media from this amazing interactive infographic.
    The big trend in 2012 was visual social media. This list of predicted trends for 2013 includes a shift to mobile and Facebook fatigue.  
    Did you know that Facebook doesn't have profiles anymore? They're now called timelines. Get up to date on the new format here.  
    MySpace is back! This review of the once-powerful social media giant's redesign will tell you what's in and what's out.  
    The new kid on the social media block is Vine. This op-ed explains why it shot to the top of the app charts so quickly!  
“The way social media is evolving is a benefit to any law enforcement agency that realizes the value of communicating directly with the public. By opening lines of communication through Facebook, Twitter and our own CyberVisor, the Broward Sheriff's Office stays in touch with residents and visitors. CyberVisor, BSO's own version of Twitter, allows people to sign up for emails or text messages about traffic, crime and safety in the areas where they live, work or commute.”

Sheriff Scott Israel
Broward Sheriff's Office,
Broward County, FL
April 2013


  April Fools! Here’s a list of some recent hoaxes that have fooled plenty of Internet users.
    Are your friends re-posting a story on Facebook that looks a little suspicious? See if it’s listed on Snopes or Hoax—Slayer, websites that track and debunk popular hoaxes.  
    Have you heard the one about Manti Te’o’s online “girlfriend”? That infamous story taught us these lessons about fact-checking in the digital age.  
    The Onion is a well-known satirical “news” source that has managed to fool plenty of people, like these parents and even this major newspaper.  
    Now that you know that not everything you see online is true, teach this important fact to kids with our newest e-book, Webster's Gecko Goof!  
Articles and comments do not necessarily reflect the views of the National
Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC). Any products or websites
mentioned are not necessarily affiliated with, endorsed or licensed by NCMEC.

“I’ve been fooled by The Onion so many times! I blame Twitter. I barely read articles anymore, just the headlines. Sometimes a friend will point out my mistake, but most don’t say anything. They’re probably laughing at me behind my back.”

Candace B., parent




March 2013


  Dangerous communities are prevalent on even the most popular social media sites. Last year, Instagram, Pinterest, and Tumblr all banned self-harm content that encourages eating disorders, self-mutilation, and suicide.
    After the recent suicide of this teen, many in the UK called for the government to ban websites promoting suicide.  
    Are pro-ana communities as bad as they seem to be? This researcher says maybe not.  
    Self-harm is not the only dangerous content online. Some police officers say kids as young as nine have been recruited to join street gangs on Facebook.  
    Keeping an open dialogue with children is one of the best ways to prevent them from seeking dangerous advice online. Read this article from NetSmartz for tips on talking to them about this issue.  

“Harmful sites, such as pro-ana (anorexia nervosa) or pro-mia (bulimia nervosa) sites, are as prevalent as the problems they reflect. A key skill for youth to remaining healthy in the digital era is to become critical media consumers who are able to protect themselves from seductive, but dangerous attitudes and beliefs.”

Michael Rich, MD, MPH
Director, Center on Media
and Child Health (CMCH)
Children's Hospital Boston




February 2013



Google is undoubtedly the search engine kids use most. Luckily, they’ve put together these great resources to help students get the most out of it.

    Middle school is a great time to really teach students comprehensive research skills. This awesome lesson plan includes everything you need for a complete tutorial.  
    Using a checklist can help students new to Internet research. Start them out with this tip sheet from NetSmartz about evaluating Internet sources.  
    Visual learners may need an alternative teaching strategy. This video explains web search strategies in plain English.  
    Properly citing Internet sources can be tricky. This online citation machine makes it so simple that your students will no longer have an excuse!  

“A 2013 Pew report on Library Services in the Digital Age underscores the importance of librarians providing teens with media literacy skills, which is a service the Chicago Public Library has offered for years now. Our librarians support teens by offering tools and skills for evaluating and synthesizing online resources for more effective research as well as tips for staying safe online.”

Robin Willard,
Young Adult Specialist
Chicago Public Library




January 2013


  Choose smart passwords! A recent poll revealed that many adults don’t follow basic security rules, like not using the same password for multiple accounts.
    Learn how to use privacy settings. These “Smart Cards” for Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter will help you protect your personal information while networking.  
    Don’t be cruel. It’s not only kids who need to learn that cyberbullying is unacceptable. Adults say hurtful things online too, like this news anchor recently found out.  
    Avoid online dating scams like this one. Most people using online dating sites are not criminals, but these tips from the FBI will help you recognize the phonies.  
    Watch out for phishing scams, especially if you like
to shop or manage your bank account online. Take
this quiz to see if you can spot the difference between
a legitimate website and a scam.

“Studies consistently show that teenagers adopt the majority of their behavior - in cyberspace and in real space - not from their peers, but from their parents.  Parents can educate their children to use good judgment online by modeling proper behavior themselves.”

Judge Dana Gershengorn
Massachusetts Juvenile Court




December 2012


  You keep hearing about “the cloud,” but what is it exactly? This video’s easy explanation will clear up any misunderstandings.
    If you’ve ever wondered about those barcodes you see on products and posted at business storefronts, read this article to learn about QR codes and why you should care.  
    If you’re new to Twitter, you might be confused about all those # symbols. Those are called hashtags. Learn how to use them here and read about trending hashtags here.  
    You’ve probably heard of Internet trolls, but you might be using the term incorrectly. This blogger explains what a troll is and is not.  
    Where did LOLcats come from? Who is “Ridiculously Photogenic Guy”? These are both Internet memes. Visit Know Your Meme to brush up on these pop culture trends.  
Support NCMEC by shopping online through Socialvest, a cause-based shopping platform that allows individuals to earn money for the causes of their choice.
Start shopping!

“At first blush, memes may look like a colossal waste of time, but they're actually a powerful way for people to find common ground through creatively responding to cultural referents. Rather than standing around a watercooler talking about what was on TV last night, many youth respond to iconic moments through playful Photoshopping. Check out one of my favorite memes of 2012.”


danah boyd,

Senior Researcher at

Microsoft Research


If you would like to be featured in the next issue of The NetSmartz Five, send your comments or brief stories about Internet safety rules for adults to:



November 2012


  One recent study found that teens who are sexting are more likely to be having risky sex. Experts say this means sexting education needs to include safe sex discussions.
    Students can actually be disciplined at school if they are caught sexting. This KY school just suspended 16 students for nude photos found on their phones.  
    Some people worry that smartphone technology is enabling teen sexting. An app called Snapchat was scrutinized earlier this year for its potential use in sending provocative photos.  
    Just this year, 13 states introduced bills on sexting. Is your state on the list?  
    Both teens and parents need to learn about sexting and its consequences. Use the newly updated Sexting Q & A for Parents and Tips to Prevent Sexting for Teens from NetSmartz to start the conversation.  

“Students who sext often feel victimized if their images are forwarded without their consent. When this happens, they fear that othersespecially adultswill overreact and not be able to help. Students should know they can turn to their school counselors as a resource, as someone they can trust, and as someone who will listen and find them the assistance and support they need.”

-Jill Cook
Assistant Director
American School
Counselor Association



October 2012


  College admissions officers are increasingly looking at prospective students’ online posts. This article explains why college-bound teens should care about their online reputation.
    It’s not uncommon for party pictures posted online to make it into the hands of disappointed parents and teachers. Use this new video from NetSmartz to teach teens about what can happen when they post something inappropriate online.  
    There are many practical ways students can manage their online reputations. Here are five suggestions from an educator.  
    Teachers need to worry about their online reputations, too. Read “An Educator’s Guide to Online Communication Tools” from our Tip Sheets page for tips on using social media personally and professionally.  
    Sometimes students and teachers don’t realize what information is available to others online until it’s too late. Use this infographic to evaluate your own online reputation.  

“Control your online image! Your digital image is just as important as your physical, professional image and requires the same level of attention and maintenance.”

- Lisa Thomas,
Associate Director,
Educational Issues Department,
American Federation of Teachers

We are now accepting entries for our annual Hispanic Heritage Month Safety Poster Contest! The contest is open to eligible fifth graders. If you are interested, please contact Ana Cody at




September 2012


  Request an invite to use our newest educator tool—the NetSmartz Lesson Builder! This amazing planner helps you create customized Internet safety lessons using NetSmartz resources.
    Read the e-book, The Princess’s Password, with your students to teach them about creating and securing passwords. In this second e-book on, Nettie’s virtual castle is taken over by a dragon!  
    Help tweens learn about grooming and the risks of meeting offline with the latest NSTeens animation,“Friend or Fake?”  
    Teach your students about the risks of posting embarrassing information online with the action-packed game Stop That Post…Again! This follow-up to the original Stop That Post is currently available on and Android devices. It will soon be available on the App Store.  
    Talk to your students about the consequences of posting inappropriate pictures online using our newest teen video, “Two Kinds of Stupid.”  

Register for our upcoming webinar on September 19—
Back to School with NetSmartz:
5 New Resources, 1 Great Year!

Register today!
“I’m so pleased that NetSmartz has added eBooks to their repertoire. What a fabulous way to teach Internet safety. I can’t wait to see more!”

– Michelle,
3rd Grade Teacher



August 2012


  Be one of the first educators to use the NetSmartz Lesson Builder— a new planning tool that lets you create customized Internet safety lessons and share them with your colleagues.
    Send your students text reminders and keep in touch with parents using remind101. (Don’t worry— they can’t text you back!)  
    Hone your craft by taking professional development classes online through PBS TeacherLine or Annenberg Learner.  
    Create a class website using free tools, such as
Weebly, Google Sites, and Shutterfly. You can post homework assignments, engage students in thoughtful discussions, and even communicate with parents.

Get organized for the new school year with online lesson planners like PlanbookEdu and OnCourse.


Register for our upcoming webinar on September 19—
Back to School with NetSmartz:
5 New Resources, 1 Great Year!

This webinar will introduce you to our latest resources and help you implement them in your classrooms.

Register today!