CHARLOTTE — As the pandemic drags on and students spend more time online, the FBI is encouraging students, teachers, and parents to take advantage of the FBI’s Safe Online Surfing program (SOS).

The goal: to teach children in third through eighth grades how to recognize and respond to online dangers such as cyberbullying, online predators, and identity thieves.

A 2018 Pew Research study found that a majority of teens (59 percent) experienced some form of cyberbullying. According to the study, both online harassment and online bullying occur at particularly high rates.

Spearheaded by the FBI’s Charlotte branch, the program includes teaching young people about web terminology and how to recognize secure and trustworthy sites. Other lessons cover how to protect personal details online, create strong passwords, avoid viruses and scams, be wary of strangers, and be a good virtual citizen.

“More than 1 million students completed the program and took the SOS exam last year,” the FBI per release.

SOS activities are available to everyone to use, but teachers can register for a class to participate in the tests and competition. Any public, private, or home school in the United States with at least five students is eligible for the online challenge, which meet state and federal standards. Teachers manage their students’ participation in the program and the FBI does not collect or store any student information.

Since October 2012, the FBI-SOS website has been visited nearly 3.6 million times. Here is a link to the website for students, parents, and teachers: .

Here’s the link to the Spanish language site.