Earlier this month, more than 100 channel partner engineers from across the Americas came together in Fajardo, Puerto Rico, for 5 days of learning at the 10th annual Americas Technical Forum. This group, along with 60 McAfee staff, made the journey for multiple reasons: deep-dive technical training, peer networking, live malware demonstrations and – let’s be honest – the tropical paradise.
The McAfee staff and partners had many things in common, among them is they are all digital safety experts, more knowledgeable about threats, safety and preventative measures than most people – particularly children.
As part of the ongoing McAfee Digital Safety Program (formerly McAfee’s Online Safety for Kids), the Tech Forum planning team took full advantage of having all of these experts in one place at the same time. We decided to teach these engineers how to deliver a digital safety message to children in their home neighborhoods. Further, we showed them just how easy it is by having fellow engineers deliver the message.
Ingram Micro’s Patrick Smith, Dyntek’s Brian Gancherov, and London Security’s Dennis London joined me on stage to teach digital safety to local middle school students (6th through 8th grade) from the Kingdom Christian Academy of Rio Grande. Expecting more advanced technical content, Tech Forum engineers were surprised that morning when more than 100 school age kids came walking into the general session room and we began talking to them about cyber security, safety, and ethics. The children were very receptive, and asked incredible questions including –
- What do I do if my identity is stolen?
- How can I be safer while playing video games?
- Can someone really look at you through your camera?
We capped off the morning session with a donation of 25 Chromebooks to the school. The Kingdom Christian Academy of Rio Grande operates largely on donations, so the Chromebooks were most appreciated. For the students, who were just in their second day of the school year, we had Frisbees, sunglasses and donuts. After the session, we had informal conversations with the kids about security, careers and Puerto Rican life.
The Digital Safety Program training at the Tech Forum in Puerto Rico is a great example of how McAfee partners can give a little something back to their communities and help keep children safe online. Since we returned to our respective day jobs, I have been inundated with requests by partners for session content and guidance on how to get started. The three partner reps that helped with this particular session have collectively trained over 20,000 children to date, both with McAfee and on their own. Although that is an amazing number, the reality is millions of school age children are coming online every year without any sort of education on potential threats.
All the Digital Safety Program takes is 40 minutes and the willingness to share expertise and experience with impressionable minds.
Won’t you get involved? We have all heard of the IT security talent shortage; a similar knowledge gap exists in our world’s youth. You have the knowledge and know-how to bridge that gap. McAfee has the tools to help you, please reach out to me and let’s get started.