Friday, February 15, 2008

The Lord of the Flies: The Real-life Internet Version

If the survey results released today from 3000 tweens are valid, we have much to be concerned about. This morning's London Free Press article highlights the fact that 95% of grade 6, 7 and 8 students surveyed, believe they know more about the Internet than their parents.

Whether or not the students have accurately gauged their parents web savvy-ness, the belief that they are much more knowledgeable than adults, leads young people to believe erringly, that they know the world of the Web as well as anyone. While that might be true for a few limited technologies (instant chat, social networking, managing music and media files), the teachers and parents in their lives should have at least a basic understanding of the importance of maintaining personal privacy.

Scary summation #1
"Early results indicated more than half of kids surveyed admitted giving personal information to a stranger online, including their full name, address or phone number."

Scary summation #2 should cause parents to rethink where computers are located in their homes:
"One-third admitted getting up in the night to use the Internet, most without their parents knowing."

Certainly there are a great number of safe and productive ways the Web is being used by young people. But with the students being the ones using the tools, and playing by their own rules - much like the boys in the Lord of the Flies - there is the very great possibility, that things will go wrong. Students can act unsafely, without knowing they are doing so, and they are unlikely to admit to adults, the need for assistance in dealing with the problems they encounter.

It's time for a wake-up call for parents and teachers alike: We need to be proactive in learning about, using, and teaching about the tools of the evolving web. Only when we can demonstrate our competence to young people, will our guiding words about 'Internet Island' be received as valid.

For more: Tune in to today's Teacher 2.0 podcast.


Anonymous said...

I appreciate your call to action! Kids aren't going to stay off the internet (nor should they), so parents have to step out of their comfort zone and learn how to navigate these spaces.

Anonymous said...

good comment. still, i have i gripe: don't really believe in "online predators". this is largely a myth built (more or less) on a single case, without any real evidence that this is happening. this is just making angst so that kids can be policed. but this is stupid, since angst is such a bad ground to make rules on.

also, it takes the spotlight away from the fact that the real "predators" out there are corporations, sucking up personal data to misuse it.