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Based out of Scottsdale, Arizona, Mother’s Awareness on School-Age Kids (MASK) is a non-profit organization that started in 2007. MASK aims to ensure that you and your kids make wise decisions on the internet, providing the tools, resources, and information necessary to ensure online safety.
The History of MASK
MASK’s founder, Kimberly Cabral, and co-founder, Michelle Cardini, were worried about their younger children’s safety after hearing unsettling stories from their older children about modern-day challenges teens face. Realizing that the problems children face today are vastly different from what they experienced growing up, they knew they had to do something to help engage, educate, and empower families to make intelligent and informed decisions to ensure their children are safe.
Parenting usually doesn’t come with a handbook. Thus, trying to make decisions for your children about things you as an adult are still unsure about can have potentially adverse consequences. MASK stays as up-to-date as possible on current trends and research involving kids to keep parents educated and informed.
For example, the more you know about online scams or predators, the more likely you are to warn your kids about them, and you will be more vigilant about their online activity compared to a parent who has little to no knowledge about technology.
Thus, MASK was created in 2007 and has since reached over six million people in 77 different countries, distributed over eight million copies of its magazine, and launched various projects, including the:
Who is MASK For?
Even though the organization's name includes “Mothers,” MASK is an excellent resource for anyone who has children, works with kids, or is just around kids often.
Keeping up with the constant changes in technology can be difficult, but it is necessary to protect yourself and others from scammers and predators. The first step in protecting our younger generations from these fraudsters is knowing how first to protect yourself online.
MASK also provides age-appropriate content for different age groups as it can be challenging to explain adult concepts like scams or fraud to children. The organization can help you navigate these conversations, ensuring the message isn’t lost on kids.
What Does MASK Do?
MASK provides various resources, each with a unique purpose and a shared goal—to keep you and your children healthy, happy, and safe. These resources include:
- MASK The Magazine
- MASK Live
- E3 Institute
- MASKMATTERS app
MASK The Magazine
MASK The Magazine is the first resource ever offered by MASK. It is published quarterly and is available online or in print (mailed right to your front door). Each issue of MASK The Magazine covers a different topic and provides solutions to fix the problem.
A few topics MASK The Magazine has already covered include:
- How to protect your child’s online identity
- How to prevent them from becoming addicted to their devices
- Updates on what kind of apps and websites your child might be visiting
- How to help kids to detect digital deception
Each issue of Mask The Magazine includes:
- Tips and expert advice related to the feature topic
- Questions from other kids
- Personal stories from kids and teens about how the main topic has affected them
- Conversation starters for parents
- Tips on what steps to take if your child is struggling
- Individual: $9
- One-year subscription: $24
Try for Free
If you are unsure about the magazine, check out a free copy of their Digital Deception issue and see if it is right for you.
MASK publishes new blog posts to their website multiple times a week. With a dedicated section for technology safety, the organization focuses on keeping children safe in an online world.
Many scammers target children knowing they are vulnerable and are not as well educated as adults. MASK keeps you up-to-date on evolving and new scams and teaches you how to educate young children.
MASK’s blogs cover various topics, including:
- Virtual kidnapping: A situation where scammers will call you and use voice-changing technology to trick you into thinking they are holding your child hostage until you send them money.
- Child identity theft
- Online predators
- Managing your privacy online
A new resource that MASK recently launched is their MASK Live segments. Once a month, the founder or co-founder hosts an episode of MASK Live where they interview an expert guest on a specific topic. Each episode is streamed on YouTube and lasts about 30 minutes, with the live portion of the segment occurring during the first 15 minutes.
During the 15-minute live portion, viewers are given the opportunity to ask the expert any questions. This segment is followed by another 15 minutes of related content, which is then posted on their premium app.
The intention behind this resource is to make experts accessible to anyone for free! For those who may not have easy access to experts like university professors and law enforcement, MASK Live allows them to get their questions answered in real-time.
Thus far, the resources mentioned have all been geared toward a predominantly adult population; however, the E3 Institute has been designed to be accessible to everyone. MASK knows that kids learn more effectively through interactive learning and participating rather than being lectured.
The E3 Institute is a digital platform that is made for kids from kindergarten to college with the following options for the different age groups:
- MASK Academy: For students in elementary school.
- MASK Prep: For kids in junior high and high school.
- MASK 4 College: For college students.
- MASK 4 Parents: For parents.
- MASK 4 Teachers: For teachers.
The E3 Institute is available for groups or for individual families. The two options include:
- MASK 4 Communities: For schools, clubs, and organizations.
- MASK 4 Home: For families.
Both of these programs were made with the same information and resources, but the lesson plans and activities included in MASK 4 Communities are meant for bigger groups, such as a classroom setting because they have more group discussion and interaction. On the other hand MASK 4 Home is meant to be a more individual experience for you and your child to learn together at home.
MASK 4 Communities and MASK 4 Home both come with the option to buy:
- Individual lessons ($50), which include:
- Parent/teacher videos
- Videos for children
- Lesson book
- Lesson packs that come in a group of three ($150), which include:
- Everything that comes with individual lessons
- A copy of MASK The Magazine
They are meant to be taught over time, so one lesson should take three months.
The newest resource MASK has launched is the MASKMATTERS app, available on Google Play and at the App Store (in both English and Spanish). It was created so users could combine all the resources mentioned above right at their fingertips.
The MASKMATTERS app offers:
- Informational videos
- Extended episodes of MASK Live
- Free issues of MASK The Magazine
- Free printables like charts and contracts to use with your kids
An example of a contract available for download is the cyber-safety contract. Both the parents and the kids have to sign this contract with various rules that everyone will follow. Some of the rules for the children include to:
- Never share personal information online.
- Never download games, movies, music, or programs with parent permission.
- Never give out passwords to anyone but your parents.
Some rules for parents include to:
- Use parental controls and filters to protect the kids.
- Know your child’s login information for all accounts.
- Share an email account with your child until they are responsible enough to have their own.
You can sign into the app as a parent, a student, or a teacher. From there, the app will ask what age group you are interested in, and then it will display various resource options ranging from educational videos to conversation starters.
For kids, there is even an interactive option called “Ask MASK” that allows them to ask questions about specific topics so they can get an answer back directly from MASK.
Why Choose MASK?
MASK is an excellent resource if you want to learn how to stay safe online and keep your kids safe too. Although you might be staying safe online and not giving away your personal information, can the same be said for your child?
Using the resources MASK provides, you can start educating your child as early as pre-kindergarten about the dangers awaiting online. It is never too early to start talking to your kids about not giving out their personal information or about how easily it can be stolen.
In addition, MASK is prepared to educate you and your child on much more than just online safety. It provides resources for many modern-day challenges that youth are facing today such as peer pressure, self-esteem issues, eating disorders, relationships, and more.
Overall, MASK wants to keep kids safe and build better connections between families.