June 12, 2015

FBI Safe Online Surfing Internet Challenge

Cyber Safety for Young Americans

FBI-SOS is a free, fun, and informative program that promotes cyber citizenship by educating students in third to eighth grades on the essentials of online security.

The FBI-SOS website features grade-specific islands with age appropriate games, videos, and other interactive materials in various portals.

In April, the Pew Research Center published a study saying that 92 percent of teens report going online daily—including 24 percent who say they go online “almost constantly.” According to the study, nearly three-fourths of teens have or use a smartphone.

Considering the many dangers that lurk on the Internet—from child predators to cyber bullies, from malicious software to a multitude of scams—it’s imperative that our young people learn the ins and outs of online safety from an early age.

That is precisely why the Bureau launched the FBI Safe Online Surfing (SOS) Internet Challenge in October 2012 with a dedicated new website. FBI-SOS is a free, fun, and informative program that promotes cyber citizenship by educating students in third to eighth grades on the essentials of online security. For teachers, the site provides a ready-made curriculum that meets state and federal Internet safety mandates, complete with online testing and a national competition to encourage learning and participation. A secure online system enables teachers to register their schools, manage their classes, automatically grade their students’ exams, and request the test scores.

FBI-SOS just finished its third school year, with record results. A total of 275,656 students completed the exams—more than triple the previous year. The competition included 5,053 schools in 49 states, D.C., Puerto Rico, and the Northern Mariana Islands.

Graph Showing Increase in SOS Users
The popularity of our SOS online cyber program has grown over the past several school years. The number of students
who have completed the training went from 24,475 in 2012-2013, to 75,377 in 2013-2014, to 275,656
in 2014-2015. That’s a grand total of 375,508 students.

 “We couldn’t be more pleased with how teachers and students are responding to the program and how participation is growing in such leaps and bounds,” said Scott McMillion of the FBI Criminal Investigative Division’s Violent Crimes Against Children Section, which runs the program in concert with our Office of Public Affairs and field offices nationwide. “FBI-SOS is helping to turn our nation’s young people into a more cyber savvy generation and to protect them from online crime now and in the future.”

The FBI-SOS website features six islands—one for each grade level—with age appropriate games, videos, and other interactive materials in various portals. The site covers such topics as cell phone safety, the protection of personal information, password strength, instant messaging, social networking, and online gaming safety. The videos include real-life stories of kids who have faced cyber bullies and online predators.

After navigating through the appropriate island, students take a timed quiz. The test scores for each school are aggregated by the FBI and appear on a national leaderboard on the website each month from September through May. Schools compete in one of three categories, determined by the number of students participating: Starfish (5-50 participants); Stingray (51-100); and Shark (100+). The top-scoring school in each category at the end of the month receives a national FBI-SOS award. When possible, the winning schools are visited by representatives of their local FBI field office.

Anyone—young or old, in the U.S. or worldwide—can complete the activities on the FBI-SOS website. The testing and competition, however, are only open to students in grades 3-8 at public, private, or home schools in the U.S. or its territories.

We’d like to congratulate the 26 schools that won the competition this past year and thank the many teachers and students who participated. We hope you will join us again in September.

- FBI-SOS Website

FBI-SOS Winning Schools, 2014-2015

Participating schools competed in one of three Safe Online Surfing (SOS) Internet Challenge categories based on the number of students taking part: Starfish (5-50); Stingray (51-100), and Shark (100+).

Listed below, broken down by month, are the top-scoring schools in each category (smallest to largest) that received a national FBI-SOS award this past school year.

Month/YearWinning SchoolsCity/State
September 2014Coral Springs Christian Academy
Oakwood Junior High School
Lake Murray Elementary School
Coral Springs, FL
Dayton, OH
Chapin, SC
October 2014Long Lake Central School
Grandview Middle School
Friedell Middle School
Long Lake, NY
Mound, MD
Rochester, MN
November 2014Keystone Jr.-Sr. High School
Andrew Jackson Language Academy
Sykesville Middle School
Knox, PA
Chicago, IL
Sykesville, MD
December 2014Chaffin Junior High School
John Paul II Catholic School
St. Vincent de Paul Catholic School
Fort Smith, AK
Houston, TX
Rogers, AR
January 2015Vega High School
Peter Kiewit Middle School
Beecher Road School
Vega, TX
Omaha, NE
Woodbridge, CT
February 2015Jupiter Academy
Corpus Christi Catholic School
South Loop Elementary School
Jupiter, FL
Chambersburg, PA
El Paso, TX
March 2015Peter Kiewit Middle School
Chapin Middle School
St. Vincent de Paul Catholic School
Omaha, NE
Chapin, SC
Phoenix, AZ
April 2015Halifax Middle School
Orefield Middle School
George Beadle Middle School
Halifax, PA
Orefield, PA
Omaha, NE

May 2015
Martin Luther School
North Gwinnett Middle School
Bear Branch 6th Grade Campus
Oshkosh, WI
Sugar Hill, GA
Magnolia, TX