Verizon and Web Wise Kids Join Forces to Educate Youth on the Responsible Use of the Internet and Cell Phones

BURBANK, Calif. - Web Wise Kids, a national nonprofit dedicated to empowering youth to make wise choices online, will help teach young people how to use wireless phones safely and responsibly, thanks to a $300,000 grant from Verizon.

The grant will enable Web Wise Kids to develop and distribute a new educational Internet safety game especially designed to help young people establish safe and responsible behavior when they are online or using wireless phones, and safeguard them from being victimized by predators, hackers and thieves.

The teen and pre-teen cell phone market has grown exponentially, making educating youth about wireless and online safety a critical issue.

"Verizon's goal is to build America's best wireless and fiber-optic networks while ensuring that our customers have the best possible experience using those networks," said Verizon West Region President Tim McCallion. "This program furthers that goal by creating a dynamic and engaging educational game to teach young people how to protect themselves online and enjoy all the positive aspects of the technological revolution."

Judi Westberg Warren, president of Web Wise Kids, said: "The goal is to provide parents, law enforcement and educators with an innovative program to help youth understand the importance of using the Internet and cell phones responsibly. We are most grateful to Verizon for its generous support and vision in this area. This new partnership will provide answers to the questions that young people have about the new frontier in modern communications."

The grant, funded by the Verizon Foundation, was announced in Burbank at the California Cyber Security Summit 2008 presented by the California Department of Consumer Affairs, California Office of Privacy Protection and State and Consumer Services Agency.

Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca, who joined with Web Wise Kids and Verizon in announcing the grant, said:  "In this modern day of communication technology, many young people are subject to many challenges, so I applaud Web Wise Kids and Verizon for taking innovative steps to protect our young people against the inappropriate use of technology."

Other summit attendees included Katie Canton, ambassador to youth for Web Wise Kids. When she was 15, Canton was contacted online by someone who convinced her that they were in love. Through playing one of Web Wise Kids' games, she realized that she was being taken in by an online predator.

Support for the Web Wise Kids project is part of Verizon's ongoing effort to educate its customers about ways technology can benefit them and offer tools that put more control in the hands of consumers. Examples of Verizon's commitment to the safe, secure and smart use of technology include:

  • Strong cyber-security tools, including content, spam and virus filters, to safeguard customers' personal information and their PCs, and robust parental controls for Verizon's TV and Internet services. 

  • An active online-safety education program designed for kids, parents and community organizations. 

  • A long history of working cooperatively with law enforcement in the investigation of online criminal activity, including fighting child pornography.  Through these efforts Verizon has played an important role in securing the safe return of missing children, even in saving lives.

  • Verizon Wireless' Chaperone service, which helps parents locate their children, and an option for wireless phone users to receive Amber Alert text messages regarding child abductions.

  • The option to block wireless text messages - either entirely or from specific numbers - through www.vtext.com.

About the Verizon Foundation
The Verizon Foundation supports the advancement of literacy and K-12 education through its signature program, Thinkfinity.org, and fosters awareness and prevention of domestic violence.  In 2007, the Foundation awarded more than $67.4 million in grants to nonprofit agencies in the United States and abroad. The Foundation also matched the charitable donations of Verizon employees and retirees, resulting in $25.1 million in combined contributions. Through Verizon Volunteers, one of the nation's largest employee volunteer programs, Verizon employees and retirees have volunteered more than 3 million hours of community service since Verizon's inception in 2000.

For more information on the foundation, visit www.verizon.com/foundation.

About Web Wise Kids
Web Wise Kids (WWK), established in 2000, is a nonprofit organization that receives partial funding from the U.S. Congress through the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Office of Justice Programs. WWK is dedicated to empowering today's youth to make wise choices online and specializes in providing easy to use, school-approved Internet safety education for youth ages 11 to 16. Today's e-generation is taught valuable lessons in their own medium using computer games with high tech simulations based on real life criminal cases.  For more information about Web Wise Kids please visit www.webwisekids.org.

Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ), headquartered in New York, is a leader in delivering broadband and other wireline and wireless communication innovations to mass market, business, government and wholesale customers.  Verizon Wireless operates America's most reliable wireless network, serving nearly 66 million customers nationwide.  Verizon's Wireline operations include Verizon Business, which delivers innovative and seamless business solutions to customers around the world, and Verizon Telecom, which brings customers the benefits of converged communications, information and entertainment services over the nation's most advanced fiber-optic network.  A Dow 30 company, Verizon employs a diverse workforce of nearly 235,000 and last year generated consolidated operating revenues of $93.5 billion.  For more information, visit www.verizon.com.