Carefully connected

Comcast officials visited Mayfair last week to discuss internet safety.

Surfing with a net: Comcast Corporation’s senior executive vice president David L. Cohen recently discussed the new Internet Essentials program during an event at Mayfair Community Center. The effort will combine public service announcements, free in-person training programs and free educational resources to help people stay safe online. Photo: Joseph Kaczmarek / Comcast

David L. Cohen, Comcast Corporation’s senior executive vice president and chief diversity officer, last week visited the Mayfair Community Center to announce a new Internet Essentials partnership to educate seniors, parents and children across the state about how to stay safe online.

The effort will combine public service announcements, free in-person training programs and free educational resources, including videos, brochures and booklets that will also be made available online.

“As a media and technology company, Comcast is uniquely positioned to contribute to this effort,” Cohen said. “We also know that one of the major reasons why low-income households, and especially seniors, don’t purchase internet service at home is because they’re afraid of it. They’re afraid of online scams and of being taken advantage of. Fortunately, as part of our Internet Essentials program, we have an outstanding network of nonprofit partners in whom we can invest to teach more seniors, adults and students that the internet can be perfectly safe once you know how to use it and what to watch out for.”

Cohen was joined by Mayor Jim Kenney; state Attorney General Josh Shapiro; state Sen. Tina Tartaglione, who was hosting her Senior Expo at the time; and Ric Harris, president and general manager of NBC10 and Telemundo62.

“Protecting Pennsylvania consumers is a top priority of the Office of Attorney General,” Shapiro said. “With this partnership, we’re doubling our efforts to educate seniors on internet safety and do more to protect Pennsylvanians from the scams, fraud, identity theft and financial exploitation that is costing America’s seniors $3 billion every year.”

Since 2011, Internet Essentials, Comcast’s community investment program and the nation’s largest broadband adoption initiative for low-income families, has connected more than 4 million low-income Americans, living in more than 1 million households, to the internet.

Photo: Joseph Kaczmarek / Comcast

The number includes 272,000 residents across the state, with nearly 125,000 from Philadelphia.

“I want to commend Comcast and the Office of the Attorney General for their partnership to help protect Philadelphia’s residents when they are online,” Kenney said. “The internet is an amazing resource, but our citizens need to be aware of and educated about what they can do to be safe online. This effort will go a long way to reinvigorate that dialogue.”

Shapiro pledged to expand senior education efforts by increasing his Office of Public Engagement’s outreach on internet safety and producing new educational content, including videos, brochures and public service announcements. Through partnerships with Comcast, nonprofits and other advocates, the Office of Public Engagement will double the number of seniors it educates about internet safety from an estimated 25,000 in 2016 to at least 50,000 in 2018.

Cohen announced Comcast would provide in-kind contributions to support a public service announcement across Pennsylvania that will reach millions of residents and help raise awareness about internet safety issues for seniors and families. He also said it is making three investments in nonprofit partners — Philadelphia Corporation for Aging and senior centers in Harrisburg and Pittsburgh — to support internet safety training classes for low-income parents and seniors, along with laptop donations to each organization.

In addition, Comcast announced it would print and distribute for free 10,000 copies of A Senior’s Guide to Online Safety, written by Larry Magid, president and CEO of ConnectSafely.org and founder of SafeKids.com. The senior guide was developed and released last year at an Internet Essentials event for seniors in San Francisco.

The company will also add new content to and links from InternetEssentials.com/Learning, where seniors and adults can access all of these internet safety materials.

Harris announced his TV stations would produce a series of free educational videos, using anchors and on-air talent, to address internet safety and security topics for seniors, parents and students. The videos will be made in English and in Spanish.

“NBC 10 and Telemundo62 are thrilled to bring our talent and production resources to this partnership,” he said. “Accessible and engaging content from a trusted news station can go a long way to raise awareness and keep seniors and families safe online. Our goal will be to tackle a variety of internet safety topics like online scams to watch out for, how to create strong passwords, how to protect your privacy online, how to deal with cyberbullying and more. We’ll break these topics down into simple and informative video content, which is exactly what our news teams do best.”

Anyone interested in scheduling a free presentation with the Office of Public Engagement should contact the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General at 717–772–2424 or seniors@attorneygeneral.gov ••