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Project PRO Program Prepares Teens To Protect, Manage Their Digital Reputations

AT&T, iKeepSafe, and the American School Counselor Association launch interactive resources to help educate teens and parents about the potential consequences of their online reputations
DALLAS, June 30 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ --As youth grow up in a digital environment, they have a world of opportunity, learning, and interaction at their fingertips, but with this constant access comes the challenge to protect and manage their digital reputation. AT&T*, iKeepSafe, and the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) announced today at the ASCA conference the launch of Project PRO, interactive resources to help educate teens and parents about the potential consequences of their online reputations.

A recent survey reflects some startling teen online behavior that will have lasting consequences:

-- 71 percent of teen girls and 67 percent of teen boys who have sent/posted sexually suggestive content (also known as "sexting") say they have sent it to a boyfriend/girlfriend. -- 51 percent of teen girls say pressure from a guy is a reason they send sexually suggestive messages or images. Only 18 percent of teen boys cite pressure from female counterparts as a reason. -- 1 in 5 teens say they've "sexted" even though the majority knows it could be a crime.

Survey Statistics: The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy (1300 teens)

Sexting is just one of the aspects of digital reputation that can have long-term consequences as colleges, potential employers, friends and family members check an individual's online reputation. While the resources address the behaviors that can have negative consequences, the materials focus heavily on providing tips and tools to help teens create a positive digital reputation that will benefit them in the future.

"The Internet is a wonderful tool for students, making research and communication available on a global scale," said Brent Olson, AT&T assistant vice president of Public Policy and former chair and current vice-chair of the Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI). "Of course, that access comes with challenges, so students need to learn how to create a positive digital dossier that will serve them now and in the years to come."

The resources, stressing the importance of privacy and online reputation, will be distributed to over 2,000 school counselors at the conference and will reach over 25,000 school counselors nationwide. Educators will also receive professional development instruction by Davina Pruitt (Univ. of MD), an expert in the measurement of online education effectiveness and behavioral modification.

"We appreciate the efforts of iKeepSafe and AT&T to provide educators with critical resources bridging the gap of understanding and providing essential training and materials allowing educators to confidently address security and digital reputation in the classroom," said Jim Bierma, ASCA president. "These two topics are leading concerns of our association members."

"It's critical that students understand the important role that digital reputation plays in their future opportunities," said Marsali Hancock, iKeepSafe president. "It can either serve as a liability or a benefit for future opportunities. The Project PRO resources help educate and inform to create a generation of responsible, resilient, and ethical cyber-citizens."

In addition to online safety services, AT&T provides free education programs for children, parents, communities and seniors. Materials and more information can be found at www.att.com/safety.

*AT&T products and services are provided or offered by subsidiaries and affiliates of AT&T Inc. under the AT&T brand and not by AT&T Inc.

About AT&T

AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) is a premier communications holding company. Its subsidiaries and affiliates - AT&T operating companies - are the providers of AT&T services in the United States and around the world. With a powerful array of network resources that includes the nation's fastest 3G network, AT&T is a leading provider of wireless, Wi-Fi, high speed Internet and voice services. AT&T offers the best wireless coverage worldwide, offering the most wireless phones that work in the most countries. It also offers advanced TV services under the AT&T U-verse(SM) and AT&T | DIRECTV(SM) brands. The company's suite of IP-based business communications services is one of the most advanced in the world. In domestic markets, AT&T's Yellow Pages and YELLOWPAGES.COM organizations are known for their leadership in directory publishing and advertising sales. In 2009, AT&T again ranked No. 1 in the telecommunications industry on FORTUNE(R)magazine's list of the World's Most Admired Companies. Additional information about AT&T Inc. and the products and services provided by AT&T subsidiaries and affiliates is available at http://www.att.com.

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About the Internet Keep Safe Coalition (www.iKeepSafe.org)

The Internet Keep Safe Coalition is a broad partnership of governors, first spouses or attorneys general from all 50 states, the FBI, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, American Medical Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, the NEA, National PTA and corporate sponsors, dedicated to keeping children safe online. The Coalition provides parent tutorials and educational resources, including the Faux Paw the Techno Cat(TM) Internet safety series of books and animated films for children. Coalition materials are distributed throughout the United States with pilot programs worldwide, including China, India and Australia.

About theAmericanSchoolCounselor Association

The American School Counselor Association (www.schoolcounselor.org) is a worldwide nonprofit organization based in Alexandria, Va. Founded in 1952, ASCA supports school counselors' efforts to help students focus on academic, personal/social and career development so they not only achieve success in school but are prepared to lead fulfilling lives as responsible members of society. The association provides professional development, publications and other resources, research and advocacy to 25,000 professional school counselors around the globe.