March 31, 2009

Sprint Phone-Recycling Program Helps Kids Stay Safe When Gaming Online

Free Resource for Children 8 to12 Years Old On Gaming Etiquette, Harassment, and Sharing Personal Information

Alexandria, VA – March 31, 2009 – Today, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children® (NCMEC) and Sprint (NYSE: S), released new resources to help tweens (youth ages 8 to 12) stay safer while gaming online. The new materials address issues such as gaming etiquette, harassment from other players, and the risks of sharing too much personal information. They are available for free on NSTeens.org, an Internet safety resource sponsored by Sprint and created by NCMEC’s NetSmartz Workshop.

Research from the Pew Internet and American Life Project indicates that 97% of teens ages 12-17 play computer, Web, portable or console games. Additionally 27% play games with people through the Internet, including more than a quarter of those teens that play with people online that they don’t know in real life. “Twenty-five years ago when the National Center first started, we wanted to help families understand the risks that their children faced and make it easier for them to have conversations about safety. The Internet, and the advent of online gaming and social networking have not changed that core mission,” said NCMEC President and CEO Ernie Allen. “That’s why resources like this are so important. They engage today’s tech-savvy generation, but also help parents and educators understand the issue and how they can talk to their kids about it.”

The NSTeens resources for tweens use animated characters to model safer online practices, and are focus-group tested with a panel of young people in an effort to ensure that they resonate with that audience. The materials for adults are designed to educate parents, guardians, and educators about the issue and encourage positive dialogue about Internet safety. The new online gaming materials, which are also available in Spanish, include:

  • An animated video for tweens featuring the NSTeens characters;
  • Peer response videos with commentary from real kids about their online gaming habits and some of the problems they’ve faced;
  • And activity cards that provide parents, educators, and other adults with ideas for talking to kids about online gaming.

“We are so pleased to see NSTeens.org continue to grow as a resource for families through our partnership with NCMEC,” said Debby Ballard, director of Community Relations for Sprint. “We know that technology can sometimes create a knowledge gap from one generation to the next and at Sprint, we’re committed to helping close that gap. By helping kids understand the impact of the choices they make online, and helping adults understand the potential dangers their kids face, we can work together to help our youth make safer decisions.”

Additional NSTeens content addresses issues such as cyberbullying, safer social networking, and the offline consequences of online actions. NSTeens.org is funded through Sprint Project Connect, Sprint’s long-running phone-recycling program. Anyone wishing to contribute to Sprint’s Internet safety efforts and dispose of their old phone in an environmentally safe manner is encouraged to visit a Sprint Store or go online to www.sprint.com/projectconnect to print a postage-paid mailing label.

About the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children

The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Since it was established by Congress in 1984, the organization has operated the toll-free 24-hour national missing children’s hotline which has handled more than 2,350,000 calls. It has assisted law enforcement in the recovery of more than 135,400 children. The organization’s CyberTipline has handled more than 675,700 reports of child sexual exploitation and its Child Victim Identification Program has reviewed and analyzed more than 21,897,000 child pornography images and videos. The organization works in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Justice’s office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. To learn more about NCMEC, call its toll-free, 24-hour hotline at 1-800-THE-LOST or visit its web site at www.missingkids.com.

About Sprint Nextel

Sprint Nextel offers a comprehensive range of wireless and wireline communications services bringing the freedom of mobility to consumers, businesses and government users. Sprint Nextel is widely recognized for developing, engineering and deploying innovative technologies, including two wireless networks serving more than 49 million customers at the end of the fourth quarter 2008; industry-leading mobile data services; instant national and international push-to-talk capabilities; and a global Tier 1 Internet backbone. For more information, visit www.sprint.com.

NCMEC Public Relations Department
(703) 837-6111

John D. Adams, Sprint

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