FOSI 2021 Annual Conference – What We Learned


FOSI 2021 Annual Conference – What We Learned

November 30, 2021

It’s hard to believe the Family Online Safety Institute packed so much world-class content into a one-day event, but such was the case with the FOSI 2021 Annual Conference – “Recovery & Renewal: Creating a path to new normal.” Smith Micro was a proud sponsor of this year’s event and members of our team attended several of the keynotes and breakout sessions. Read on for our key takeaways.

Online Safety, Tools & Technology 

  • Teens know more about online safety & available tools than their parents do.
  • Teens are ambivalent about the online safety tools provided by the social media platforms. They appreciate the value of some of the tools, however they think the social media platforms could be doing much more to educate users regarding appropriate community behaviors and available online safety tools.
  • Screen time is an obsolete concept. As kids are digital natives, they don’t differentiate between their online lives and “real world” lives. It’s all part of their lived experience. Instead of focusing on outdated concepts like screen time, parents should be more concerned with context – e.g. what is digital screen time replacing?

Digital Wellbeing

  • Teen’s happiness and perceived wellbeing is driven by social media.
  • The vast majority of parents accept that they hold primary responsibility for the online safety and digital wellbeing of their kids. However, most parents are overwhelmed and don’t know where to start.
  • Interactions in the online world constantly evolve everyone’s behaviors and worldview. This is especially evident in young people as they are the early adopters of today’s online platforms and play a major role in shaping the rules and values of these dynamic communities.

Advice for parents

  • Digital parenting technology is only one piece of the puzzle. These tools must be combined with open conversations between parents and kids regarding technology usage.
  • No double standards – parents must teach by example when it comes to technology usage. The most effective approach to online safety & digital wellbeing is a team approach that involves everyone and holds everyone in the family accountable.
  • Young people are the experts in creating online worlds, experiences & personas. Now, one of the best ways parents can connect with their kids is through co-creation of online content.

Looking Forward – Key Takeaways

  • The digital economy is in its infancy and young people are its main drivers. Because of this, many members of Gen Z will make their primary living in alternative ways (social media influencers, TikTok creators, professional video gamers, etc.)
  • Powered by 5G and surging demand for curated online experiences, augmented reality will become mainstream among young people.
  • The creation, organization, government and promotion of diverse and dynamic online communities have prepared today’s young people to be the main drivers of consumer trends and global humanitarian causes for the foreseeable future.

Opportunities for Wireless Carriers

  • Educate – One of the best ways for wireless carriers to remain top-of-mind and build brand affinity with mobile subscribers is through education. Parents need more information regarding online safety & digital wellbeing issues. Even though they may not admit it, teens strive to be understood by their parents. Wireless carriers can provide common ground.
  • Experience – Encourage parents to get involved with their kids’ digital lives through active communications and challenges. As kids and their parents team up to create shared digital content experiences, families will feel more comfortable to confront challenging online safety issues together.
  • Empower – Deliver tools & digital services that help families come together around technology to have open and worthwhile conversations about its role in everyday life.

Click here to watch Marco Leal, Smith Micro’s VP of Worldwide Products, discuss the latest tech trends in online safety and digital parenting with representatives from Netflix, Mattel & Aura at FOSI 2021.