Trend Micro’s Internet Safety for Kids & Families (ISKF) initiative began life 11 years ago. Internet use was pretty different back then, and our message was much simpler: let’s help protect kids from strangers and adult content online. Since then, things have progressed quite a bit — from just two dedicated Trenders in 2008 to now hundreds working on ISKF programs around the globe, reaching 2.5 million kids in the process.

One of the most enduring and successful initiatives we’ve run has been the What’s Your Story? youth contest — designed to encourage young people to participate in defining safer, positive, and more responsible use of the internet. The campaign is now in its tenth year, so we thought we’d give you a quick peek into the exhaustive planning that goes into developing this and our ISKF program every year and tell you more about the 2020 campaign theme.

Our 2020 vision

Back in 2008 the internet was a very different place. Facebook was still in its infancy, the iPhone had just come out and there was no Instagram or Snapchat. User-generated content, social gaming, a glut of online content, and broader access to the internet, especially by younger kids, has forced us to evolve our message, to focus not just on threats but on behavior. We want kids not just to be safe but also practice good digital citizenship.

To help plan for the coming year, we brought all our major ISKF stakeholders together in a global meeting in Toronto in October. Representatives from the US, Canada, Japan, Ireland, Italy, Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Switzerland and the Philippines gathered together to focus and help advance our cause. During the two days of sessions we took stock of the program in all of the regions it’s currently operating in, asking each how they would describe ISKF externally, what they’re most proud of, and what they want to invest in more next year.

The What’s Your Story? campaign was a major focus for our discussions. We analyzed many aspects of it to ensure we were still achieving what we had hoped when we started it 10 years ago: to give young people a voice in defining a path to a better, safer, more positive internet.  With the competition set to run in the US & Canada, Ireland, Japan, Philippines, Australia, New Zealand and Singapore, and potentially more in the coming year, we have our work cut out for us, but are equally excited to continue such an important cause.

A life without the internet

To celebrate a decade of the competition, we decided to take a slightly different approach to previous years, in which the contest theme has generally centered around how to make the internet a better place for everyone. For our 2020 competition, we’re posing the question to young people: how would you feel if we removed the internet altogether?  We still hope to understand better how life online has impacted them – for better or worse – not by its existence, but by its absence.  We look forward to the entries, and based on history, we feel we will not be disappointed.

Participants from Canada and the US can submit entries from November 19, 2019 and have until January 14, 2020 to do so. As part of the competition, they are also encouraged to promote their entries to friends, families, classmates and communities. This is a key part of the competition: we don’t just want participants to create impactful, original videos but also to advocate their message.

Contestants can participate as an individual or as a school.  Finalists will be notified on around January 28, 2020, with the winners announced on February 11, 2020, Safer Internet Day, at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California. A grand prize of $10,000 will be awarded for the winning student entry, with half of it going to the student and half to the student’s school.  There are additional prizes of $5,000 each awarded to the best Canadian and US school entries.

To find out more about ISKF and What’s Your Story? click here….

Lynette Owens

Lynette Owens

Lynette Owens is Vice President of Global Consumer Education & Marketing at Trend Micro and Founder of the Internet Safety for Kids and Families program. With 25+ years in the tech industry, Lynette speaks and blogs regularly on how to help kids become great digital citizens. She works with communities and 1:1 school districts across the U.S. and around the world to support online safety, digital and media literacy and digital citizenship education. She is a board member of the National Association for Media Literacy Education, an advisory committee member of the Digital Wellness Lab, and serves on the advisory boards of INHOPE and U.S. Safer Internet Day.

Follow her on Twitter @lynettetowens.