IST and Unisys partner to educate youth on cybersafety

Three students from the College of Information Sciences and Technology (IST), in collaboration with Unisys, presented “Managing your Digital Footprint” to State College Area High School students on Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2010.

Caitlin Doyle, Jessica Newlen, and Dan Vivio made the presentation to promote awareness about the dangers and risks involved with the use of social media networks such as Facebook. They also discussed the use of the Internet to bully peers.

“We wanted students to become more aware of the dangers and consequences that can come from cyberbullying as well as the consequences of releasing information, pictures and video to social media sites,” said Vivio, a senior IST major from Monessen, Pa.

Vivio said he found it interesting that the students mentioned the use of GoogleDocs as ‘burn books’ similar to the one featured in the movie “Mean Girls.” He said it was something the group was previously unaware of but hopes to be able to incorporate into their next presentation.

Newlen, a senior double majoring in IST and Security and Risk Analysis (SRA) from Renovo, Pa., said the chief goal of the program was to educate students on how to protect themselves and their personal information. She said it was important to educate students before they become immune to the concept of over-sharing personal information online.

The partnership between the College of IST (specifically Women in IST and the Security and Risk Analysis Club) and Unisys began when Abigail Whiffen, director of global recruiting, contacted Jennifer Stubbs, IST corporate relations specialist, and began planning projects.

“She was excited to see the caliber of our students,” Stubbs said. “These students were hand-picked as student leaders, each representing a different discipline.”

Vice president and global chief information security officer for Unisys, Patricia Titus, said that after giving a presentation to the SRA club last year, she knew the students were easy to communicate with. Titus believes that younger generations need to hear messages about cybersecurity from their peers.

“What I realized is middle and high school students want to hear these types of messages from their peers or individuals closer to their age level,” she said.

The program is set to expand, presenting next on Dec. 7 to seventh and eighth grade students at Penns Valley Middle School, Stubbs said. The presentation will also be restructured to fit the needs of parents, educators and school administrators.

“Most adults do not know as much as children when it comes to the Internet,” Newlen said.

Newlen added that as the expansion continues, student involvement will grow to help manage the efforts. She plans to continue her involvement until graduation.
Titus noted that this project is recognized by officials in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security as they launch an awareness campaign called, “Stop. Think. Connect.

“We also feel this is responding to President Obama’s call to action last May when he declared cybersecurity a national priority. I can’t tell you how proud I am of the students of IST that are helping pioneer this project,” Titus said.

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Last Updated July 07, 2011