"Into the Cloud": New online program teaching kids internet safety

GREAT FALLS - It's called "Into the Cloud”. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children says it's a new program with the motto: entertain while educating kids about internet safety.

Child internet safety is something we talk about a lot here in Montana, especially with sex trafficking busts happening right here in Great Falls.

As parents we know to keep our kids safe online and monitor what they're doing, but is that teaching them how to handle cyberbullying and reporting inappropriate content? The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children says that's why they believe in prevention education through this program.

"We're also starting to see new trends in the exploitation of children through the internet. Sextortion is one of them where the exploiter will get sexually explicit images of a child and blackmail that child for their images," said Callahan Walsh, child advocate for the National Center of Missing and Exploited Children.

"Into the Cloud" is using animated characters through different safety scenarios showing how to make smart choices, understand the trends and threats.

The content on this program comes through the over 18 million reports they've gotten from their cyber tip line.

Through song, dance, and games K-5th graders are learning interactive ways to remember and understand how to protect themselves online from things like cyberbullying or inappropriate content.

The best way to describe this program is like watching a cartoon. Your children will be introduced to characters like "Meet-Me-Mack" who's been accused of trying to meet kids offline and "Webster" a kid who's teaching others to keep their settings on private.

"Parents will be going blue in the face trying to track down their children's digital bread crumb trail so that's why we choose to focus on directly on the children and make sure those resources are there,” said Walsh.

As children get older threats tend to change which is why the organization has a variety of educational resources for different age groups.

If you have teens, they have witness stories from other teens who've experienced inappropriate content or cyberbullying.

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