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November 15. 2013 6:20PM

Google's 'Good to Know' Roadshow in Hooksett


Instead of using professional speakers or actors to give a presentation on Internet safety at Cawley Middle School in Hooksett, Google had its employees lead the way. (BENJAMIN C. KLEIN/Union Leader Correspondent)

HOOKSETT — Using a combination of viral videos like the billion-hit video "Gangnam Style" by Korean rapper Psy and hard hitting facts, U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte and members of Google did a presentation at the Cawley Middle School Friday afternoon designed to teach students how to be safe and protect themselves while online.

Before opening up the Good to Know Roadshow for Google, Ayotte said that she has been focused on Internet safety since her days as state Attorney General.

"We need to teach them to use that technology in smart and safe ways is an important message for students because unfortunately scam artists and predators use the Internet for criminal reasons. And part of the problem is they have a better understanding of that technology than we do, but they don't have the same life experience, so there needs to be a back and forth on this between children and adults," Ayotte said.

During the presentation Ayotte spoke to children about privacy and the potential embarrassment that comes from disseminating potentially embarrassing photos or information. To drive her point home, Ayotte showed what she called an embarrassing class photo of herself that drew laughter from the young audience.

"Just look at those bangs," Ayotte said.

An official from Google at the presentation said that the company has been developing the safety program for nearly two years, and that its effectiveness is proven because a recent study indicated children respond best to Internet safety warnings in a school assembly situation featuring outsiders because they are less likely to listen to their parents or teachers.

Jaime Hill, a public affairs analyst for Google, said that many of the Google officials in attendance flew up from Washington, D.C. for the presentation, which is the first one to be given in New Hampshire. She added that instead of having actors or professional speakers give the presentation, actual Google employees handle the entire thing.

"We worked with Senator Ayotte's office to find a really great middle school, and Hooksett is a great choice because of the school's focus on the subject. About 93 percent of teens are online and this is a great time to teach them how to be responsible because the web is what we make of it," Hill said.

Superintendent Charles Littlefield said that the school was very lucky to have the presentation, not just because of the name recognition that comes with having a U.S. Senator and officials from Google, but because of the timeliness of the subject matter.

"What a wonderful opportunity. It's timely because these are the issues our kids are facing today. And the presentation has some really good stuff for our kids to consider," Littlefield said.

Littlefield added that it is immensely important that Internet safety be taught to students because so much of their lives, whether it's doing homework, talking with friends or playing video games, is based online.

bklein@newstote.com


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