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Local Boy Scouts Council, AT&T collaborate to promote cyber safety, responsible online behavior

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Mon, Mar 7th 2016 01:30 pm

'Cyber Chip 2.0' launched regionwide to help better prepare Scouts to navigate the digital world

Be prepared - it is the scouting motto. In efforts to better prepare Scouts and provide them the needed tools to navigate this new digital lifestyle safely and deal with the challenges of cyberbullying, online predators and trolls, identity theft and digital reputation, the Greater Niagara Frontier Council, Boy Scouts of America and AT&T have announced a partnership to provide a joint cyber and digital safety educational program, "Cyber Chip 2.0."

This new program is meant to be used by Scouts, leaders and parents. Scouts will be required to complete this program annually to earn the privilege of using technology while at scouting events, and they will be encouraged to share this newfound knowledge with family, friends and classmates.

Congressman Chris Collins, a lifelong Scout and a leader in the technology business sector, joined Greater Niagara Frontier Council CEO Russell Etzenhouser and AT&T at the University of Scouting event held on Saturday at Erie Community College South Campus. More than 500 attendees of the scouting community were on hand to hear him announce the new, enhanced cyber safety program. Collins stressed the importance of using the digital space safely and responsibly, and encouraged all scouts and leaders to utilize the valuable resources provided by the "Cyber Chip 2.0" program.

"Cyber Chip 2.0" is the integration of the Boy Scouts of America's national Cyber Chip program and AT&T's Digital You initiative, which are both designed to increase cyber safety and awareness. "Cyber Chip 2.0" will incorporate all of the current national Cyber Chip program requirements, but will include additional multimedia resources and educational assets from AT&T's Digital You program to reinforce digital safety and literacy, while ensuring area Scouts are prepared to use the Internet and mobile technology safely and responsibly.

Similar to other requirements and badges in the scouting tradition, the "Cyber Chip 2.0" will be awarded to Scouts who have utilized all the resources, completed the educational requirements, have proven mastery of the subject matter, and have signed the pledge to be an "Upstander, not a Bystander" when it comes to cyberbullying, while helping to create a safe, responsible and respectful digital world.

"Cyber Chip 2.0" will be available at Greater Niagara Frontier Council's website, www.wnyscouting.org. The program will be customized for different age groups to ensure all content is age-appropriate and will be available for Cub Scouts - grades 1-3 and 4-5, Boy Scouts, Varsity Scouts, Venturers, Explorers and Sea Scouts - grades 6-8 and 9-12. In addition, the multimedia hub includes videos, educational games, a free cyber safety app, work sheets and a pledge board, which Scouts will be encouraged to sign and share on social media to encourage others to take the pledge to be an "Upstander and not a Bystander" utilizing the hashtags #CyberChip2.0 and #ATTImpact.

"The Boy Scout motto is 'Be Prepared,' which, in today's world, requires having the tools and knowledge needed to safely navigate the Internet," Collins said. "We live in a digital age where technology has enhanced our lives, but it has also made us vulnerable to new threats. This newly established program will guarantee Scouts will be ready to safely tackle the challenges of our digital world.

"I want to thank AT&T for their involvement and helping to lead the 'Cyber Chip 2.0' program."

"Our council has access to thousands of young Scouts, Scout leaders and parents in Erie and Niagara counties. This is an excellent opportunity for us to partner with a great company like AT&T to help educate our youth on how to become more aware of threats on the Internet," Etzenhouser said. "When AT&T approached us to establish this partnership, we said 'Yes' without any hesitation. Unfortunately, more and more youth are at risk to cyber threats and dangers, and we want our organization to be at the forefront of the solution to ending these risks and protecting our youth as best we can."

"AT&T is proud to collaborate with the Greater Niagara Frontier Council to help educate scouts about safe and responsible online behavior and to assist them in promoting community awareness of Internet safety issues," said Marissa Shorenstein, New York president, AT&T. "Now, Scouts will have direct access to AT&T's Digital You resources to educate them on how to practice safe online behaviors, detect online predators, secure their digital footprints and protect themselves and others from cyberbullying. AT&T applauds Congressman Collins for helping this vital program come to fruition, which we are confident will positively impact and safeguard thousands of local children."

The Boys Scouts of America's Cyber Chip launched nationally in 2012 and is an Internet and technology safety program that has varying requirements for boys depending on grade levels. Each Cyber Chip level covers topics such as cyber bullying, cell phone use, texting, blogging, gaming and identity theft.

AT&T's Digital You is comprehensive public safety program that provides multimedia tools, tips, apps, guidance and community education events for people of all ages and levels of online experience to learn more about how to have a safe and secure online experience. It provides tools and tips on how to use a smartphone or tablet to guard against identity theft or take a stand against cyberbullying, thus making navigating cyberspace less daunting and more fulfilling.

Children and adults not involved in scouting may also take advantage of AT&T's Digital You free programming and education materials on digital safety and cyberbullying by visiting digitalyou.att.com.

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