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Stephen Balkam
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Stephen Balkam is the founding CEO of the Family Online Safety Institute, an international, non-profit organization which works to make the online world safer for kids and their families. FOSI convenes leaders in industry, government and the non-profit sectors to collaborate and innovation new solutions and policies in the field of online safety. Through research, resources, events and special projects, FOSI promotes a culture of responsibility online and encourages a sense of digital citizenship for all. Prior to this, Stephen was the founder and CEO of the Internet Content Rating Association and the Recreational Software Advisory Council, where he led the creation of the world's leading content description system for digital content. In addition, he has run three other non-profit organizations and ran his own consultancy business. Stephen won the 1998 Carl Bertelsmann Prize in Gütersloh, Germany, for innovation and responsibility in the Information Society. And he was named one of the Top 50 UK Movers and Shakers, Internet Magazine, 2001.

Entries by Stephen Balkam

Is the Internet Really a "Lawless Jungle?"

(0) Comments | Posted August 13, 2014 | 10:41 AM

An article that recently appeared in The Independent (U.K.) really caught my eye. The headline screamed, "Internet is 'lawless jungle too dangerous for children to use,' former government adviser warns." I wanted to know what dangers the advisor was referring to and exactly what remedies he or she...

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Teen Sexting Is Not A Felony

(8) Comments | Posted July 10, 2014 | 4:03 PM

We need to take a moment to reflect on the state of our laws around "sexting" -- the sending of sexually explicit photos and videos, usually by text message -- and the way these laws are being interpreted and enforced by the police and prosecutors. And we adults need to...

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Make Personalized Learning a Reality Says Ed Tech Task Force

(0) Comments | Posted June 17, 2014 | 12:08 PM

It's not every day that you get former Governor Jeb Bush and actress and activist Rosario Dawson to sign off on a major education report. But today, the Aspen Institute Task Force on Learning and the Internet released their findings entitled, "Learner at the Center of a Networked...

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Google Gets a Philosopher to Decide Who Gets "Forgotten"

(0) Comments | Posted May 30, 2014 | 2:13 PM

What would Plato do?

That's the question on the lips of the major search engines as they rush to respond to the European Court of Justice's recent "right to be forgotten" ruling. Google has announced that they are now accepting requests from Europeans to take down links to unflattering or...

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The Right to Remember

(0) Comments | Posted May 16, 2014 | 3:18 PM

The European Union Court of Justice's recent ruling in favor of a "right to be forgotten" has roiled the Internet industry and observers alike. While on the face of it, the court's decision would appear to be a victory for individuals and their desire to make unwanted references...

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Risk vs. Harm: Time for a Recalculation

(0) Comments | Posted May 5, 2014 | 5:02 PM

I was walking in Central Park last week when I noticed a small crowd had gathered and were pointing to something in the sky. I couldn't make out what they were looking at, but I passed a woman and she muttered to no one in particular, "I sure hope his...

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Learning the Lessons of the InBloom Failure

(1) Comments | Posted April 24, 2014 | 7:50 PM

The controversy over how to manage and store sensitive student data reached boiling point this week. InBloom, the non-profit organization backed by a $100M grant from the Gates Foundation, closed its doors over parental concerns about the potential misuse of that data and other privacy and security fears about how...

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Boys Will Be Jerks (and Champions)

(1) Comments | Posted September 16, 2013 | 4:09 PM

Usually girls hold grudges, so you should probably avoid girls for the rest of the week. -- Billy, 11

I know what you mean, Billy, as does Rosalind Wiseman, author of Masterminds and Wingmen: Helping Your Son Cope with Schoolyard Power, Locker-Room Tests, Girlfriends and the New Rules of Boy...

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Hey, It's Safer Internet Day -- Take The Pledge!

(0) Comments | Posted February 4, 2013 | 12:18 PM

Today is Safer Internet Day. Who knew?

Well, most of Europe, for a start. Safer Internet Day is in its tenth year and is making a big splash in the US this year. It is organized by Insafe, a European network of Awareness Centers promoting safe...

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Mind the Online Generation Gap

(0) Comments | Posted November 14, 2012 | 8:30 AM

The kids are fearless and parents are clueless.

Well, that's what I used to say about the vast differences between parents and their kids and the Internet. Research that we've launched today suggests that the picture is both more complex than that while also offering some reassurance that...

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Digital Teens and the Three T's

(2) Comments | Posted July 18, 2012 | 1:27 PM

There has been much angst in the press lately about teenagers and the Internet. Having recently been in London for the United Kingdom Council for Child Internet Safety (UKCCIS), I read breathless updates from the Daily Mail and their campaign against porn on the Internet. While...

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Consumer Reports Privacy Survey Rings Alarm Bells

(11) Comments | Posted May 4, 2012 | 2:30 PM

Throughout much of the 2000s, we lived through what some have described as a techno-panic on the issue of online predators. Many a nightly news program led with scary images, stories and reports of dangerous pedophiles stalking neighborhoods having first tracked your kids through their online profiles and...

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They Shoot Laptops, Don't They?

(7) Comments | Posted May 1, 2012 | 11:26 AM

First we had revengeful dad Tommy Jordan, who in response to his teen daughter's offensive video posting on Facebook, created a video of his own to "teach her a lesson." After speaking directly to the camera (and to his daugher's followers), he turned the camera toward the laptop...

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Harvesting the Fruits of a Tech Revolution

(0) Comments | Posted March 20, 2012 | 8:00 PM

We are only just beginning to understand the impact the Internet and communications technology is having on the Arab world. That was just one of many conclusions drawn from a recent conference in Doha jointly hosted by ictQatar and the Family Online Safety Institute called, "Promoting Online Safety...

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Dad Shoots Daughter's Laptop, Misses an Opportunity

(147) Comments | Posted February 14, 2012 | 12:27 PM

Tommy Jordan, the mad dad who shot his daughter's laptop, is right up there with Charlie who bit his brother's finger. They're both YouTube sensations and they both share an infantile sense of pleasure in biting back. Only thing is, Tommy's the adult here or, at...

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The Good, the Bad and the (Not So) Ugly of Teen Social Networking

(5) Comments | Posted November 9, 2011 | 8:30 AM

It's not easy being a teen these days.

Apart from the usual adolescent issues of friends, homework, parents and just plain angst, kids have also got to navigate a whole new world of social networking with all the highs and lows that this can bring: cyberbullying, sexting, overuse, oversharing and...

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The Price of Advice

(1) Comments | Posted October 12, 2011 | 10:05 PM

In a recent New York Times Magazine article, my organization, the Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI), was accurately referenced as a member of the Facebook Safety Advisory Board. This Board consists of five non-profit organizations who broadly work in the area of online safety. We meet...

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Back to iSchool

(2) Comments | Posted September 8, 2011 | 4:00 PM

Kids are loading up their backpacks and heading back to school. An increasing number are taking sophisticated digital devices with them.

iPhones are the most sought after and desired, followed by the many varieties of smart phones, iPads, iPods, digital cameras, laptops and old-fashioned cell phones. The reaction of...

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Be Afraid of Facebook, Be Very Afraid

(62) Comments | Posted August 26, 2011 | 10:38 AM

What are we to make of the rather official sounding "National Survey of American Attitudes on Substance Abuse XVI" from The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA)? That Facebook causes kids to drink? That Twitter will drive your teens to smoke dope? That watching Jersey Shore...

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Not Backing Kids Tracking Bill

(2) Comments | Posted July 18, 2011 | 5:47 PM

Who could possibly be against protecting kids on the Internet? In particular, kids' privacy should be protected and parents should be given the right to delete stuff their errant teens have mistakenly posted about themselves. Minors shouldn't be tracked online and voracious cookies should stop sucking up the virtual bread...

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