by Mónica Marie Zorrilla
10/23/2017 - 17:46
Comcast has teamed up with the leaders of Pennsylvania’s government to ensure that our most vulnerable- the elderly and children -are safe online. Internet Essentials is the first of its kind; a multidimensional campaign and concerted effort to expand digital literacy outreach and informative programs across an entire state.
When David stepped into Josh’s office, he had no idea he would be leaving with a business deal.
But, I suppose that is the only possible outcome when the Executive Vice President of Comcast and the Attorney General of Pennsylvania find themselves in the same room.
Pretty soon, Jim was feeling excluded, and caught wind of the burgeoning venture. The Mayor of Philadelphia signed on to a plan that hopes to keep senior citizens and children- and particularly those who are low-income -safe when they login.
Internet Essentials was a one-of-its-kind inevitability. Comcast has been focused for the past six or seven years on closing the digital divide and getting people connected to the Internet, but has had a tough time breaking the barrier of digital literacy, digital relevance, and the general fear of browsing online that seniors, children (and their parents), have. Predators are always a matter of concern, as are scamming, fraud, and identity theft, all of which are aimed toward the most vulnerable of persons at the other end of the screen.
These types of criminal antics cost America’s seniors $3 billion every year, and Pennsylvania has the fifth most seniors of any state.
Our public appointed officials are dedicated to the safety of their constituents, an obligation that, now in the 21st century, has extended to taking cyber security measures.
It isn’t easy to harness the vast Wild West of The World Wide Web, though. There are as many likelihoods for harm and exploitation as there are for live streams of adorable panda cubs and reputable news articles. One of the best ways to minimize the damage though, is by providing educational resources and tools to empower the hands on the keyboard.
Internet Essentials is a multidimensional approach to guiding the vulnerable through the infinitesimal probabilities of a Google search, social media platforms, and the rudimentary basics of e-mail. It includes a print publication- written by Larry Magid (the president and CEO of ConnectSafely.org, SafeKids.com, and SafeTeens.com) -online text, curricular resources, informational videos, and in-person digital literacy training sessions.
For additional assistance on this innovative, public and private sector project, the Mayor, the Attorney General, and the Vice President rounded up their contacts, calling-on NBC10 and Telemundo62 to help them bridge the virtual gap by having them produce PSA’s and other promotional materials.
Topics that are to be covered include- but are not limited to -online scams to watch out for, how to create strong passwords, how to protect your privacy online, and how to deal with cyberbullying.
The print publication by Magid, pamphlets, and brochures are to be distributed by the thousands for free in a variety of Comcast’s non-profit partners, such as The Urban League, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, and The YMCA. The Mayfair Community Center on 29th and Princeton Avenue has already begun to host digital literacy training classes, which serves to not only provide knowledge but to also soothe and answer concerns over going online. Comcast, in David’s words, feels “a responsibility to equip them with basic information”, a responsibility that is echoed by both Jim and Josh’s platforms.
Under David’s leadership, Comcast made three investments to Philadelphia Corporation for Aging in Philadelphia, Steelton Senior Center in Harrisburg; and Vintage, Inc. in Pittsburgh, to support the efforts of Internet Essentials, topped-off by laptop donations for each organization.
When asked if Comcast has any plans to expand the Internet Essentials program on a national scale, David says that it is his end-goal, because he thinks that it is something that “we can and should replicate in other states”, but the demo will remain local… until further notice.