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Stephen Balkam
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

The New Realities: Virtual, Augmented and Mixed

(0) Comments | Posted May 3, 2016 | 4:40 PM

Kevin (What Technology Wants) Kelly concludes an epic article in Wired magazine about artificial reality with the pronouncement that, after a long gestation period, "It's real."

Mark Zuckerberg, quoted in a Vanity Fair piece on the virtual reality headset, Oculus Rift, said, "This is...

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Chatbots are the New Webpages. Say What?

(0) Comments | Posted April 21, 2016 | 12:14 PM

I'll never forget my first webpage. It was December 1994 and I was working in the offices of the Software Publishers Association (now the SIIA). A very energetic techie on the staff had enthused about this World Wide Web and proclaimed it the next big thing. He offered folks to...

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Play Your Part For Safer Internet Day

(1) Comments | Posted February 8, 2016 | 4:49 PM

Tuesday is the global day of celebration for all things Internet safety. From humble beginnings in Europe in 2004, Safer Internet Day now includes 100 countries on every continent in the world. ConnectSafely is hosting the US gathering at Universal Studios in Hollywood with a cast...

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Boomers Can't Even Copy and Paste

(0) Comments | Posted October 26, 2015 | 2:23 PM

I don't mind admitting it: I'm a boomer.

I was 39 when I saw my first website. A fact so baffling to a classroom full of middle schoolers, that a boy in the front row asked me, "So how did you get in touch with your friends?"

"We had things...

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Creating a National Online Safety Plan

(0) Comments | Posted September 16, 2015 | 11:38 AM

Keeping kids safe online while also giving them freedom to explore is tough. Giving parents timely information and the skills they need while helping them be good digital role models to their kids is not easy.

Encouraging Internet companies, large and small, to build safety by design into their...

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'Ex Machina': The Consciousness Test

(18) Comments | Posted April 19, 2015 | 4:16 PM

If only Alan Turing was alive today.

He would have enjoyed the acclaim of the movie about his life, The Imitation Game, and the great public interest around his role in helping to end WWII, the beginnings of the modern computer and the test for artificial intelligence that bears his...

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The 3 Teachable Moments Every Digital Parent Should Seize

(0) Comments | Posted March 19, 2015 | 11:33 AM

We talk a lot about talking with your kids about being safe online. It is, after all, the first of the 7 Steps to Good Digital Parenting. Talk early and often about safety, privacy, being secure and behaving responsibly online. It's not like the birds and the bees...

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The Conscious Web: When the Internet of Things Becomes Artificially Intelligent

(14) Comments | Posted February 20, 2015 | 12:12 PM

When Stephen Hawking, Bill Gates and Elon Musk all agree on something, it's worth paying attention.

All three have warned of the potential dangers that artificial intelligence or AI can bring. The world's foremost physicist, Hawking said that the full development of AI could "spell the end...

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Let's Choose to Create a Better Internet

(0) Comments | Posted February 10, 2015 | 8:39 AM

Today is Safer Internet Day. Now in its 11th year, SID, as it is commonly known, grew from a European Union initiative to what is now a global movement with activities, events and happenings in over 100 countries on 7 continents. I'll be joining such luminaries as Attorney...

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Online Safety Redefined: The 3 Key Elements

(0) Comments | Posted January 11, 2015 | 12:41 PM

Online safety has come of age.

It is 21 years since "Child Safety on the Information Highway" was first published by journalist and online safety expert, Larry Magid. A year later, after the release of the notorious Rimm Study and the Time Magazine cover article...

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The 6 Steps to Good Digital Parenting

(2) Comments | Posted October 22, 2014 | 10:40 AM

I'm often told how hard it is to parent in this digital age.

So many decisions about devices, software, apps and games have to be made and at increasingly younger ages. Amazon and others have created tablets for preschool kids and parents are buying smartphones for kindergartners....

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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

(7) 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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