Carbon County District Attorney Gary F. Dobias announced at a news conference Wednesday that his office has received a $10,000 grant from the Verizon Foundation that will help to educate the county's children on Instant messaging, Social Networking and Cyberbullying.

The program will be administered by PBS television station WLVT- PBS39.

At the conference with Dobias was Daniel J. Reavy, director of external affairs for Verizon, who presented the check, and Stacey J. Scholl, vice president, development, for PBS39.

Dobias said the purpose of the program, which will be conducted in all 13 elementary and middle schools in the county, is important given the increase in the number of Internet crimes coming through his office.

The crimes include identity thefts and the use of the various Internet programs and sites by predators of children. He said the program that will be held at the schools and conducted by trained educators, who will provide children with the proper skills to use the Internet and to help them to learn how to guard against improper uses. He said, "The Internet has become our children's new playground." He also said at a future date a general program will be held at a site in the county, probably the courthouse, where all parents will be invited to attend and learn the pitfalls that can happen to their children in using the Internet and the various other programs available to them.

The program will begin early next year and is titled, "Be More...Tech Savvy." The workshops, as they are labeled, are all about Internet safety.

Reavy, in presenting the check, said, "Our children are growing up in a digital world. It's how they communicate, learn and share ideas." He added, "Online technology has had a tremendous impact on our society, and its role will continue to grow with further advances. Verizon is proud to partner with District Attorney Dobias' office and PBS 39 in this important and innovative initiative to keep children and families safe throughout Carbon County."

According to Scholl, the parent workshop covers topics like: How do students use the Internet; what are the dangers; IMing (instant messaging) Language, Cyberbullying, Intellectual Property and Plagiarism, and Cybersecurity.

She said the students are taught: Cybercommunity Citizenship; Personal Safety; Predator Identification; and Plagiarism and Theft of Intellectual Property.

Dobias thanked the county commissioners William O'Gurek, Charles Getz and Wayne Nothstein for their help in securing the grant. All three were present for the announcement. He singled out Getz, who was the "go between" with the county and Verizon in setting up the program.

Dobias said he did not have any figures on the number of cases coming to his office concerning criminal activities on the Internet, but said they have increased over the past years and all indications are that they will continue to increase, which makes this program so much more important for children and parents to protect them.

Dobias said, "Parents must be informed on what is proper and improper and what can and can't be done."