Announcing “A Platform for Good” – A Place to Connect, Share and Do Good

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from Stephen Balkam, chief executive officer of the Family Online Safety Institute.

Today, we at the Family Online Safety Institute are launching “A Platform for Good,” a unique interactive website designed to help change the national dialogue about kids and technology, and to promote conversations between teens, their parents and teachers about using the power of the Internet and social media for good.

There is plenty of bad news about how digital technology affects our kids. Cyberbullying, sexting, over-use, over-sharing and concerns over the 3 P’s: porn, predators and privacy. Certainly, discussions among adults, whether they are parents, policy makers or politicians, are often focused on the dangers and pitfalls of technology. This is fueled by fear-based messaging with provocative headlines and scary-sounding news stories that create an atmosphere of concern and worry over what might happen to our kids if we let them loose online.

And yet, there is also much good news to report. In a recent Pew/FOSI study, 69 percent of teens report that their peers are mostly kind on social networking sites, and that 78 percent had at least one positive outcome from interactions on Facebook and the like.

Another report found that 29 percent of teens say that social networking sites make them feel less shy, 28 percent said that social media makes them more outgoing and 20 percent said social media made them feel more confident.

With the backing of some of the top industry leaders including Facebook, Google and Microsoft, along with the backing of the MacArthur Foundation, Platform for Good (PfG) aims to help shift the focus from the negative and, instead, accentuate and encourage the positive use of the Web. Here’s what you’ll find:

  • “Teach Parents Tech” – an interactive feature that will enable teens to educate their parents about technology and give teens incentives to engage their parents in discussions about technology. Polls are now open for parents to vote on the topics they want to learn about and the videos, badges and other interactive features will be unveiled in November.
  • “Teach Teachers Tech” – these videos for teachers, featuring teen Adora Svitak, can be used in classrooms to foster discussions about the online world and provide a number of world-class resources and activities to be used in and out of class.
  • “What I Wish My Parents Knew” – this sweepstakes invites teens to submit videos or text in their thoughts and wishes for what their parents knew about technology. And there’ll be an Xbox for a lucky teen when a name is randomly chosen from all who’ve submitted their ideas.
  • Blog – the PfG blog will feature some of the top thinkers and doers in the online world. Bloggers will discuss ways to use technology for personal and social good and highlight examples of those already using social media for good. 
  • Resources – these pages have been specially created for parents, teachers and teens to meet their needs and will highlight a number of great resources, volunteering opportunities, online materials, videos and tutorials.

So jump in and get started. Let us know what you think and what else we could have here. The Platform for Good is exactly that – a platform for great ideas, intriguing activities, online adventures and digital explorations. PfG will not stand still, so come back often and be a part of how it grows. Tell your friends about PfG and link to it from your favorite social networking site.

And, at a time of so many scare stories and fearful headlines, let’s use the power of social media for good!