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Girl Scout ambassador helps spread awareness of internet safety

On Saturday, March 2, Krystal Shaw, a Girl Scout ambassador in Troop 56 of Service Unit 12-5, held a seminar at the Charles County Potomac Library entitled, “Staying Safe Online While Using the Internet of Things.” Approximately 55 adults and children were in attendance.

Shaw is working towards earning the Girl Scout Gold Award, which is the highest award in girl scouting. The Gold Award is earned by completing a project that promotes service to the community, personal growth, positive values and leadership skills. Shaw’s Gold Award project advisor is Charlene Gaston.

Digital devices are impacting children at earlier ages than ever before, Shaw said. It is of the utmost importance for children to learn how to protect themselves, their identities, and devices from emerging online dangers. “Staying Safe Online While Using the Internet of Things” was a seminar with breakout sessions for children ages 6 to 13 to teach youth about internet safety.

Shaw said the purpose of the event was to teach the community how to stay safe and secure online.

“I am diligently working to make a difference by helping children to better understand internet safety. I am also committed to educating parents as well by providing tools, tips, and handouts on how to monitor their children’s online behavior,” she said.

The keynote speaker, U.S. Navy Senior Chief Petty Officer Michael A. Perez, delivered a security brief on social media security. Due to the growing popularity of social media, it is important to educate children on the dangers of posting online, Perez said. He also discussed how to protect your private information from leaks on social media. He delivered an effective message when it comes to children’s safety online.

“It is my hope that the conversations this afternoon leave a lasting impression on the families present. I’m passionate about the security and well-being of our youth,” Perez said.

There was a breakout session for children on “Cybersecurity 101” and “Internet of Things 201.” Girl Scouts in attendance were able to earn the two new Cybersecurity badges. Topics discussed included cybersecurity 101, internet of things, phishing, social engineering, identity theft, the importance of having strong passwords and driveby downloads.

Shaw facilitated breakout sessions for the children, and Perez held an interactive session with the parents.

Vince DeVivo, a community outreach specialist with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Maryland, provided internet safety resources to distribute in folders that were provided to participants during check-in at the event.

The La Plata Chick-Fil-A contributed to the event through a generous donation of lunch for all attendees.

At the conclusion of the event, surveys were distributed to the parents and guardians. There was an overwhelming positive response with review stating that the seminar was very beneficial to encourage internet safety. There should be more seminars that provide the community with information regarding cybersecurity awareness and discussions on how to safe and secure online.

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