Google, youth body launch ‘Web Rangers’

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The Internet, an excellent medium to connect with people, comes with risks for abuse, exposing teenagers, who spend hours online, to various threats, mean language, nasty rumors, and cyber-bullying.

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To foster a safer way to use the Internet, Google has partnered with the National Youth Commission to launch Web Rangers, a program designed to help teenagers with ages 14 to 18 to have a safer online environment.

At least 50 teenagers, who signed up at the Web Rangers website (http://webrangers.ph), will be selected to become Web Rangers, a group formed to fight against misuse and abuse of the Internet.

The group will formulate meaningful campaigns to promote responsible Internet use.

Google and the National Youth Commission will hold a Web Rangers workshop in April to train members to make the most out of their creativity and social influence and encourage their peers to have better online behavior and keep each other safe online.

The Web Rangers will be given enough time to produce their own campaigns, which can come in the form of educational videos, lesson plans, songs and apps, but the sky’s the limit as long as the message is effectively delivered.

The company said makers of the most creative campaign will have a chance to visit Google office in Asia and present their campaign to Google executives. The winners will be announced in May.

“Cyber-bullying is a serious issue that we shouldn’t gloss over. A lot of teens are affected by it, or know someone who is bullied online. More often than not, they’re not sure how to protect themselves,” said Gail Tan, Google Philippines Head of Communications and Public Affairs.

“We’re hoping that the Web Rangers will be a way by which we can teach our kids to help themselves and their peers address cyber threats in a positive and inspiring way,” she said.

The website presents five Web Ranger roles that teens can identify with: The Creator, who creates inspiring online content; the Frontliner, who takes a stand to protect the bullied; the Guardian, who is vigilant against those who bring threats online; the Transmitter, who shares and passes on positive content to others; and the Uplifter, who readily “likes” and “+1s” positive posts. Any teen that signs up will have a corresponding Web Ranger profile.

Before its launch here in the Philippines, the Web Rangers program has been successfully executed in other countries such as New Zealand, Israel and India.

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