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A turtle teaches cyberspace ethics. (Government spotlight: the latest news about education from the U.S. government).

Worried that computer-savvy kids are growing up with little guidance on how to be good online citizens, the federal government is introducing a friendly new mentor for the Internet generation.

Meet "Dewie the Turtle," the mascot for a plan put forth by the Federal Trade Commission to discourage kids from using their computers to wreak havoc and teach them to protect themselves from dangers in cyberspace.

"This is a campaign very much like Smokey the Bear, but instead of fighting forest fires, Dewie the Turtle will be concerned with creating a culture of cybersecurity," says Mario Correa, director of Internet and network security policy with Business Software Alliance.

The program is to be coordinated on both federal and state levels and contains about 80 recommendations for boosting computer security.

The strategy will help make cyberspace more secure, says Shannon Kellogg, vice president for information security programs and policy at the Information Technology Association of America.

Dewie, who already has his own Web site, will appear in the form of public service announcements. Stickers and posters will be available for kids and teachers.

Dewie will also introduce some cyberspace ethics to kids. "He will tell the kids it's important not to use the computer as a tool for creating disaster via the Internet," Correa says.

Kellogg says Dewie will be an important vehicle to instruct children on the do's and don'ts of computer behavior, something less computer savvy parents might fail to discuss. Dewie tell kids what it means to be a good "cybercitizen," in part that breaking into another system is not the right thing to do.

"You'd be surprised at the ages of some hackavists out there," with even pre-teenagers involved in hacking, Kellogg says.

Kellogg adds that his organization stands behind teaching cyberethics at a young age. "We would certainly like to see information security be a subject at all levels of education. You can shape a younger person's thinking by teaching them ethical behavior."

www.ftc.gov
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Author:Tierney, Margaret
Publication:District Administration
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2003
Words:330
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