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I blogged a few days ago about how many people talk to me these days about the web, and how it impacts their and their families’ lives. Almost all the folks over 35 want to talk about how their kids interact with the Internet, and are generally more worried than they are thrilled by kids spending more and more of their time online.

We all have to admit, that we have become like our own parents (when we were young), and do not fully understand the world of our children. Thankfully there are many tools and bits of software which help parents protect their children whilst browsing the Web. Firefox Add-ons such as Glubble allow parents to set which sites children can visit, whilst youngsters can safely play games, chat, surf and find information.

That said, a worrying development of the Web has been the rise cyber-bullying in our children’s lives. Beatbullying, is a UK based charity who works tirelessly to help Britain’s youngsters deal with and protect themselves against bullying. Earlier this year they launched their CyberMentors Program, offering help and advice from trained mentors to anyone who is being bullied online. Mozilla supported CyberMentors project straight out of the gate, whereby members of the Mozilla community volunteered to be trained as CyberMentors. Yesterday, we took our partnership a stage further for this worthwhile cause by building and launching a new custom Firefox browser for CyberMentors.

The new browser offers:
• Chatting with victims of bullying and other CyberMentors
• Reporting online bullying
• Providing tips for online safety
• Accessing the Beatbullying media centre

The Firefox browser has been customised with building-in buttons and a media-player which links easily to CyberMentors video and audio. There’s also a persona (skin for your browser) which kids will love.

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Beatbullying campaign to make ‘the web a safer environment for youngsters’. We are proud to work side by side together with a fellow public benefit organization, advancing our mission to improve the online experience for people everywhere, whilst keeping the web safe and open for everyone.
Get Firefox for CyberMentors on the PC, Mac & Linux,  and if you already use Firefox, you just need the Add-On >>

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Last week, as my colleagues Patrick and William shared, Mozilla was delighted to announce our partnership with the CyberMentors initiative from the UK charity BeatBullying.

CyberMentors is an extremely important and worth while project with the aim of keeping young people and children safe online. Whilst the Internet provides countless opportunities for learning, knowledge, and fun at the click of a button, “… Cyber Bullying is unfortunately the most common problem experienced by young people on the Web in the UK”.  (Find out more about what CyberBullying is)

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“… I am delighted that Beatbullying is taking a lead in training more than 3,000 CyberMentors to take its successful peer mentoring programme into schools and to establish it online.” Noted Gordon Brown, the UK PM in a video address at the launch of CyberMentors.

Become a Mozilla sponsored CyberMentor!

We are now searching for 10 people who will be sponsored by Mozilla to be trained as a CyberMentor in the UK. As Patrick explained: “Anyone can become a Cybermentor, and there is no need for previous experience of working with children: the only pre-requisite is understand and empathy for those who are experiencing bullying.”

The training is in London, so we hope to find SE England-based community members first – over time, the programme will roll out to the rest of the country. Please read Patrick’s post for more information on what is expected of you as a CyberMentor: http://patrickfinch.net/2009/03/03/mozilla-and-cybermentors/

For more information on how to become a CyberMentor please contact William or Patrick directly at william at mozilla dot com or Patrick at pfinch at mozilla dot com.

Please help us take a firm stance against Cyber Bullying, and help our children safely experience the wonder which is the Web.

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