FBI San Deigo
Special Agent Davene Butler
(858) 320-1800
September 14, 2015

FBI Launches Safe Online Surfing Challenge for 2015-2016 School Year

It’s that time of year again. Students have returned to class. But along with books and pens, many will be utilizing tablets, laptops, and computers. Students today are more computer savvy than ever—and the 2015-2016 FBI Safe Online Surfing (FBI-SOS) Internet Challenge aims to keep their cyber safety skills just as cutting edge as they are.

According to a survey of teens and tweens conducted in 2014 by Cox Communications and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC):

  • On average, teens spend 5 hours and 38 minutes online every day
  • Nearly half of that time is spend playing online games
  • 92% are social network users
  • 74% share photos or videos of themselves, friends (58%) or family members (51%) online

Survey results show that, during the time teens spent online:

  • 1 in 4 teens have been a victim of cyber bullying
  • Over half of teens surveyed have witnessed cyberbullying (54%)
  • Nearly half of teens admit to taking action to hide their online behavior from parents

As the power and popularity of the Internet continues to expand, the resources needed to address the problem will also continue to grow.

The goal of the SOS program is to provide students with knowledge about how to avoid dangerous situations on the Internet, specifically, Internet predators. Each month, students from registered schools learn about Internet safety as they participate in online games and activities.

Upon completion, the students take an online quiz to test their knowledge. At the end of each month, three trophies (one for each school size category) are awarded to the schools with the highest scoring students on the FBI-SOS post-quiz.

The SOS website is free and is designed for students from third to eighth grade. Each grade has its own age-appropriate “island” where students learn key cyber security concepts through interactive content and games. The topics—designed to meet state and federal Internet safety mandates—include cyber bullying, how to protect personal information, online predators, instant messaging, copyright and fair use, reporting, social networking, cell phone safety, and gaming safety. The program is open to public and private schools and is designed to meet state and federal Internet safety mandates.

Teachers who wish to participate in the Internet Challenge can sign up at https://sos.fbi.gov and enroll their classes by grade. The FBI does not collect or store any information from students playing the SOS game. Students receive an electronic token (passcode) from their teacher that enables them to take an exam for their respective grade-level.

The tests are graded electronically, and the schools (not individual classes) are ranked on a national leader board that is posted online. At the end of each rating period, winning schools in small, medium, and large categories are recognized by the FBI and, when possible, are visited by an FBI agent from the local field office. Any member of the public (parent or child) can surf the islands, but only those schools that have signed up can take the tests and win the competition.

For further information about the SOS program contact Community Outreach Specialist Yadira Dickey at (858) 320-5711 or by e-mail at yadira.dickey@ic.fbi.gov.