The Smart Talk Relaunches With a Focus on Inclusivity

Norton and National PTA enhance the family-focused online safety tool
Jun 21, 2022 5:00 PM ET
Blog

By Kimberly Bishop, Corporate Responsibility

I am very excited to announce that Norton and National PTA have launched an updated version of The Smart Talk! Since 2015, we have collaborated on this free, interactive online resource that lets families set healthy tech limits together.

The Smart Talk has never been more important. In 2021 the Norton Cyber Safety Insights Report revealed 4 in 5 Americans feel it is essential or very important for parents to teach their children about cyber safety, however, 78% conceded that it is difficult for parents to keep children safe when they are online. That is exactly where The Smart Talk can help!

Last year, we committed $1 million to update the platform and increase its reach. We are excited to debut the relaunched tool. While the premise is the same — families sit together and answer questions about online and device usage, resulting in a printable contract that can be displayed where everyone can see it — we have made some key updates.

These updates speak to our ongoing quest to champion inclusivity, provide families with the resources they need to live their digital lives safely, and expand our reach to empower children to become responsible digital citizens.

Specifically, we have enhanced The Smart Talk via:

Inclusivity updates:

  • National PTA ran focus groups with families of many races and ethnicities, socioeconomic backgrounds, religions, and more to ensure The Smart Talk works for families from all backgrounds, beliefs, and abilities.

  • After conducting focus groups with Spanish speaking families, parents confirmed they would appreciate the tool in their native language. We hired native Spanish speakers to create a tool that authentically reaches Spanish-speaking kids and families nationwide.

  • We hired education experts that specialize in accessibility and heard from parents of children with special needs. As a result of this input, we removed questions about screen time, as screens are often the primary way for kids with disabilities to communicate, and were very cognizant of our word choices related to screen time.

  • We also made the font and user experience more accessible for neurodiverse children.

Content and user experience updates:

  • The Smart Talk now includes questions about TikTok and other emerging apps that did not exist when the tool was first designed. We also added a lot more education around misinformation as parents voiced concern about children not being able to determine if what they were seeing online was true.

  • Through our research, we learned that parent technology concerns differ more among children's age groups than they do among demographic or income level groups. We responded by building four versions of the tool tailored to different age groups that help parents have age-appropriate conversations.

  • One of the biggest changes is that we have broken the full tool into modules so that families can choose specific areas of concern, such as “Privacy and Safety” if they want to focus on one key topic applicable to their family.

  • We heard that parents want to support their children online, but do not necessarily have the background, vocabulary, and resources to do so at their fingertips. In response, we embedded education directly into the tool through hover spots, links, and a customizable 'to-do' list.

  • We also heard from families that they are often too busy to complete it in one go. We have added functionality that allows users to save their work and return later.

  • We heard from many parents that they tend to take a reactive approach to technological mishaps but would like to be more proactive. The new tool was built with the ability to set reminders to return to The Smart Talk and was built to grow with their child over time.

  • As you will see from the new tool, it is also easier to use and navigate overall.

Serving more PTAs than ever before:

  • Norton has also invested in reaching more families. Previously, we reached about 25 local PTAs each year. By employing a “train the trainer” approach, our cybersecurity experts have helped provide training, materials, and tech support to PTAs across the country so that they can run The Smart Talk Conversation training themselves. We have also increased our funding, sending individual $1,000 grants to more local PTAs to support them in hosting their own event. With the added resources and infusion of funding we will be able to reach 180 local PTAs over the next two school years!

If you have not yet tried the tool or if it has been a while, I encourage you to complete The Smart Talk with your family.