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Page 42 4 Nontechnical Strategies When our children are younger, we keep them in safe places. But we don't keep them in safe places until they are eighteen. We take them out into public. We teach them to recognize danger. We teach them the skills to deal with that danger, and, most importantly, we impart to them our values and our expectations for their behavior. As they grow, we step back and allow them the freedom to demonstrate to us that they have learned these skills, and can act in accordance with these values. We are always present for awhile, providing that necessary supervision, and when appropriate, discipline, and hopefully keeping the conversation alive, and continuing to discuss values and expectations. —Nancy Willard, workshop participant Workshop participants heard presentations by both researchers and educators working to protect young people from sexually explicit and other inappropriate material on the Internet. The nontechnical strategies presented encompassed a variety of programs to educate parents and young people on Internet use. The majority of strategies focus on reducing young people's exposure to inappropriate material, while others center on providing them with skills to mitigate any possible effects they might experience from encountering sexually explicit or inappropriate material online. Some strategies also had implications for Internet safety by training young people to deal with interactions with other users. A number of strategies and approaches to creating positive online experience for young people are presented in this chapter. These include so
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Page 43 cial marketing strategies, media and information literacy, educational outreach to parents, monitoring and mentoring, acceptable use policies, responsible “netizenship,” and professional development for educators. This chapter provides a conceptual description of each approach, defining it in a broad sense and then providing more specific examples of instances in which these concepts were put into practice. Many of the strategies discussed can be adapted to the specific contexts, needs, and constraints within which a community may be working, although some approaches may be more feasible for larger institutions than, for example, parents concerned about their children's home use or a revenue-strapped school. For each approach, a brief discussion is devoted to identifying the contexts (e.g., home, school, libraries) or type of institution that might effectively put a strategy into place. It is important to note that many of the conceptual approaches can be adapted to particular circumstances with a little ingenuity. The particular material targeted (e.g., Internet safety, reducing exposure to sexually explicit material, recognizing and resisting direct marketing) is also explored. Again, many strategies may be used to address a number of issues online, and readers are encouraged to evaluate these strategies with their own needs and contexts in mind. Table 4-1 displays the range of strategies, the contexts in which these approaches have been effective, the feasibility of the strategy and who would need to support it, and material the strategies target. SOCIAL MARKETING STRATEGIES Sarah Keller used the term “social marketing” to describe several approaches that center on reducing young people's exposure to inappropriate material by increasing the amount and accessibility of positive, educational material on the Internet. An online landscape filled with productive, stimulating, and developmentally beneficial material was seen as an important objective by many workshop participants, many of whom decried the dearth of educational material online and a need for greater funding for developing such online curricula. This landscape would include more web sites devoted to sexual health and education, so that curious adolescents could get reliable information on sexuality rather than, or at least before, finding sexually explicit material lacking information or depicting unprotected sex or other unsafe sexual practices. Others suggested that creating web sites, portals, or even a zone with a domain name ending in “.kids” and filling it with developmentally appropriate, educational, and enjoyable material on a broad range of appealing topics. These portals or a “.kids” domain could make child-friendly material more readily accessible.
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Page 44 TABLE 4-1 Chart of Nontechnical Strategies Strategy Context (Home, School, Library) Feasibility/Collaboration Required Type of Inappropriate Content Targeted Social Marketing Strategies Variations • “.kids” domain Always available on the Internet so works in all contexts. However, child must choose to go to this content while online. Potentially costly, requires collaboration of industry, foundations, government, etc., to fund development. Because links are preselected, it can prevent exposure from any inappropriate material. Offers positive content and could increase amount of material on sexual health, but does not prevent young people from accessing other material. • Portal to the Web (homepage with links) Always available, but child must choose to use the portal. This is more likely to occur in a supervised situation (e.g., classroom in which students are directed to work from specific home page). Schools, libraries, and other community institutions can accomplish if individuals with some technical expertise are available. Same as above. Media and Information Literacy • Curricula Strengthens resistance to inappropriate Internet content and therefore functions in any context in which the child is online. Most applicable for schools and library programs. Costs associated with curriculum development and instructor labor. Curricula can be designed to address any specific type of content (sexually explicit, violent, hate speech, misleading content, etc.).
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Page 45 Educational Outreach Variations • Public awareness (campaign via television) NA Costly, funding needed from industry, foundations, and/or government. Campaigns could focus on any content issue, but likely to be most effective in raising parents awareness about Internet safety. • Online training NA Nonprofit organizations, industry, and government agencies can all design sites. Same as above. • Hands-on training NA Community groups, schools, and libraries are positioned to offer training. Same as above. Monitoring and Mentoring Variations • Use of space to facilitate supervision Useful in classrooms, libraries, homes, community centers— any context in which supervision is possible. No cost, teachers, librarians, and parents can do this. Does not guard against specific content. Success depends on the attentiveness of supervisors. • Sign-up sheets to promote accountability Useful in situations for multiple users (schools and libraries). No cost, success depends on students' reaction to lack of anonymity. Does not guard against specific content. Potential deterrent to kids looking for inappropriate content. • Cyber navigator mentoring Schools, libraries, and community groups can institute programs. Low cost, programs can use volunteers, drawing in particular on older high schoolers and college students. Can protect against any type of content, but success depends on the attentiveness of supervisors.
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Page 46 Acceptable Use Policies Variations • School policy Behavior expectations can only be enforced in school, so students may or may not feel compelled to follow these expectations beyond school use. Fairly simple, individual teachers can establish class expectations. More collaboration and planning is needed for school-wide or district-wide policy, though it is still low cost. Policy can be designed to establish behavior expectations for many different types of content. • Home use agreement between parent and child Could protect children in any context if policy is conveyed in a manner that tells the child the behavior expected at all times. No cost, parent must be informed to address this issue and establish behavior expectations. Same as above. Responsible Netizenship Once taught, it could protect children in any context if they are committed to these safety standards. No or low cost, can be incorporated into acceptable use policies in schools and by parents. Internet safety, interactive content and contact with other users.
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Page 47 Professional Development Variations: • Changes to teacher training in universities NA Costly, restructuring teacher training to include greater facility with technology is a needed but long range plan and will require funding by universities and government. Curricula can be designed to train teachers to address many types of content. Information and media literacy would be a useful component. • Continuing education NA Moderate cost, in service days could provide Internet safety and content as topics. Universities and other organizations could also design continuing education classes. Same as above.
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Page 48 Social marketing strategies such as these would help to keep young people away from pornography and other inappropriate material by providing a venue that meets their needs and interests. By increasing the number of sites or creating a domain name dedicated to children, easily searchable, and convenient (e.g., homework help to guide students to relevant information), young people might choose to go to these sites voluntarily, which in turn would keep them away from objectionable material. Parents might also have an easier time directing their children's Internet use by directing their children to surf only the “.kids” domain. Sarah Keller identified three benefits in adopting a social marketing approach. First, by providing better educational and more healthful content, the burden of regulating and screening content is reduced. Schools could use portals to these educational sites, which might reduce the costs of filtering and screening if they could provide an online platform that went directly to these useful cyberspaces. Second, although educating parents and encouraging them to be responsible and involved in their children's online activities is an important and viable strategy, it is difficult to accomplish. Social marketing alleviates the difficulty to some extent by reaching young people directly. These web sites could easily include information on online safety as well as other educational content. Third, evaluating educational web sites and portals is more feasible than trying to evaluate online content as a whole. As an example, Keller described the evaluation process of the teen web site, < iwannaknow.org>, a project she and Jane Brown are currently involved in. This process began with a content analysis that compares the information available on the site to the recommendations established by the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the U.S. (SIECUS), a recognized authority on sex education (Keller et al., 2000). The analysis was used to create an online survey to measure the site's impact on teen knowledge, attitudes, and intended behaviors. Furthermore, the site was evaluated using the American Library Association's recommendations on navigability, accuracy, authority, currency, and objectivity (Kapoun, 2000). Keller said this example demonstrates that educational content can be evaluated in a manner that is thorough, rigorous, and feasible and can grapple with the extent to which a site is developmentally appropriate, relevant to young people's needs and interests, and user-friendly. Striving for better, thoroughly evaluated educational online content will take time. The creation of a “.kids” domain, for example, would take
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Page 49 time and could be costly. Smaller-scale attempts to create a socially appropriate and educationally beneficial Internet landscape for children also have potential because they can be accomplished more quickly and on a local basis, though they will inevitably have significantly less material than a “.kids” domain could. Mary Dempsey, commissioner of the Chicago Public Library, described the Chicago Public Library's effort to create a kids-safe portal to the web. The library's home page for kids and teens is designed to be a safe portal to that links to educational material online. The page, Chicago Public Library Sign of the Owl (< www.chipublib.org/008subject/003cya/sign/sign.html>), has an attractive graphic with a flashing button for an Internet safety quiz as well as a menu that includes the Teen Edition, Homework Help, Good Reads and Great Books, as well as resources for parents, teachers, and youth librarians. The Safety Quiz is an interactive quiz that poses one question at a time that can be answered with a yes or no button that calls up the correct response as well as feedback about the question. For example, the second question in the quiz is “If I see stuff on the Internet that makes me uncomfortable should I keep it a secret?” Depending on your answer you either get a bouncing star graphic (if you are correct) or a “Danger” sign if you answer incorrectly. Both answers are accompanied by the following text: “If you are at home, tell your parents right away if you come across any information that makes you feel uncomfortable. If you are at the public library, tell a librarian and then leave that page right away.” This short quiz is fun (even for adults) and provides very useful information about Internet safety to children, Dempsey said. In addition, the links provided on the Sign of the Owl home page are helpful and entertaining, and the Homework Help section is useful to students. The Sign of the Owl, with a reasonably extensive number of links, is an example of a positive “kids area,” or what some have likened to the Public Broadcasting Service's (PBS) children's television programming, but created for an online venue. Creating a home page for a school or library that acts as a portal to the web is not difficult. In the simplest form, a teacher would preselect material relevant to a class by bookmarking a series of sites in a navigator or simply providing a list of sites that students should use for a unit or project. Creating an area dedicated to young people and filled with educational material could be a very ambitious project, such as creating an expansive “.kids” domain filled with enough interesting material that young people can get immersed in for hours, or it could be a relatively low-tech effort to satisfy busy students with bookmarked sites,
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Page 50 thus providing readily available links to prescreened material. Such approaches can be used now to create home pages with preselected lists of relevant sites, and it can also stimulate future development of positive content. This approach would avoid some of the difficulties associated with filtering and free speech issues. Workshop participants suggested several models for funding larger projects, such as creating a “.kids” domain. One suggestion was joint ventures between foundations and the government to set up a media lab that would generate this material. A second suggestion was to call for the industry to earmark a certain amount of money to creating and managing a PBS-like site. Laurie Lipper, director of The Children's Partnership, compared this suggestion to the process that cable networks went through to create and support CSPAN. Although these projects are never entirely without self-interest on the part of the industry, she stated, like CSPAN, it is possible to create a useful and valuable product through this type of industry commitment. Social marketing has the potential to protect young people from many types of inappropriate material because it selects and produces carefully considered educational and entertaining material for them. Internet safety can also be incorporated into safe portals so that young people will be exposed to this information when they go online. Social marketing has the additional benefit of avoiding issues pertaining to free speech because it centers on producing and making available material, rather than censoring or restricting certain types of content. The limitations of this approach are the potential costs of creating a large-scale “.kids” domain, and, in the case of creating individual portals to the web, the need for individuals with technical proficiency to generate homepages. Young people also may not be willing to work within the “.kids” domain even if they like the content contained in it. Because of this, social marketing would need to be paired with other approaches that involve parents or other authority figures setting rules and limits on young people's Internet use. Examples of these approaches appear later in the chapter in the sections on mentoring and monitoring and creating acceptable use policies. MEDIA AND INFORMATION LITERACY As noted earlier, every panel and nearly every panelist at the workshop stated that media and information literacy offer a particularly important and powerful set of strategies to protect young people from a wide range of
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Page 51 inappropriate material online. Media literacy represents a set of skills required to critically analyze images and information represented in the media in order to evaluate the extent to which they are relevant and credible. For example, concept-oriented communication stresses the development of consumer competence and may be associated positively with adolescents' skepticism toward advertising and other harmful media content. In one study, mothers whose family communication patterns were based on concept orientation tended to mediate the media's influence on children by discussing and viewing ads with children (Carlson et al., 1992). A related study by Alemi et al. (1989) developed a computer program to allow teenage girls to practice making choices to prevent pregnancy. The feedback and information provided by the game to the teens allowed the girls to think critically about the contexts presented and practice decision making. Information literacy describes the how-to skills of finding relevant and useful information on the Internet. For example, performing an effective search requires the selection of the right set of keywords, familiarity with Boolean logic, choosing the right search engine for the topic, and knowing how to navigate through a browser so that it is easy to enter and exit web sites, databases, and other online resource tools. Information literacy provides a set of strategies that could help to prevent young people from viewing inappropriate material in the first place (e.g., if a search returned a web site that the young person had learned to recognize was likely to contain sexually explicit material rather than information on reproduction, the user could simply choose not to click the questionable site). The skills required to evaluate Internet content are a bit more challenging than those a young person would need to watch television critically. One of the primary differences is that many web sites provide what appears to be informational content but is in fact advocacy that may or may not be founded on research. Young people have a very difficult time telling the difference between compelling rhetoric and a compelling argument based on knowledge, and these are extremely important skills for today's children to acquire. Media literacy offers a set of cognitive skills that could protect against misleading information or a disturbing image by teaching young people how to recognize underlying messages, criticize them, and develop productive counternarratives (Mangleburg and Bristol, 1998). Finally, participants observed that media literacy could equip young people to deal with a wide variety of dangerous or inappropriate material online. Many viewed this as very important because they felt the attention to sexually explicit web sites comes at the cost of neglecting material that could be
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Page 52 equally or more dangerous to young people because it encouraged them to make bad decisions about their behavior. Joanne Cantor and Sarah Keller offered two studies of how media literacy can help counteract negative effects that young people may incur from their media consumption. Cantor conducted a study with elementary schoolchildren to determine if she could mitigate the aggression-promoting effect that research has shown often occurs with watching television violence. Investigators showed their young participants a violent cartoon but beforehand asked them to think about the feelings of the victim of violence throughout the episode. Viewers who received these instructions did not experience an increase in their acceptance of violent solutions to problems, nor did they find the cartoon to be as funny as those not instructed. This media literacy intervention reduced desensitization compared with the control group in the study (Nathanson and Cantor, 2000). Keller conducted an online media intervention program with girls in their early teens designed to get them to think critically about the messages the media was providing about what women should think about romance, love, and sexuality (Keller, 2000). She asked the participants in the study to think critically about images they observed in the media and to identify how they thought the media was shaping their thoughts and attitudes about love, romance, and sexuality. The girls responded by criticizing the media because they felt the media encouraged them to focus too much on romance and trying to attract men. Their critical comments were used to help generate a web site with alternative images and messages that the teens thought reflected their own attitudes and experience with romance. The web site was pretested with 46 middle- and low-income girls of mixed ethnicities in New York City. Results indicate that recognizing the messages inherent in the media and being able to criticize those messages are important steps in being able to resist those messages, she said. While such findings suggest that media literacy can help mitigate the impact of the media on young people's attitudes, the question remains of how to use media literacy in schools. Kathy Boguzewski, an instructional technology consultant with the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, described how she used media literacy to teach students how to evaluate information on the Internet in two different contexts. The first took place earlier in her career as a library specialist. The only connection to the Internet was in the library, thus Boguzewski had a great deal of control over the way in which the Internet was being used, and it was relatively easy to ensure that students were not only avoiding inappropriate material, but
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Page 57 their children's online activities and media habits. They are also important players in leveraging schools and other institutions that serve kids both at the local and national levels. That parents feel inadequate or incapable of providing guidance or setting boundaries about their children's online activities was identified by both Lipper and Faucette as a big impediment to children's safety on the Internet. From her research with parents, Lipper consistently heard concerns from them that their children know so much more about computers than they do, and that they did not feel like they could provide any relevant guidance for them. Yet researchers in this workshop noted that parents' involvement in their children's media activities are beneficial for their development. In response to parents' desire for information to teach their children online safety, The Children's Partnership developed The Parent's Guide to the Information Superhighway, first published in 1996. The report focuses on how parents need to think about and approach technology, as well as how they can address Internet issues with their children. It is not a how-to manual on filters or web support, but rather offers guidelines and recommendations on age-appropriate strategies for setting limits and encouraging productive online activities for children. A summary of these guidelines is presented in Box 4-1. The guide includes practical tools available to help foster parent-child discussion about online safety and responsible online behavior. For example, the report contains a sample contract for the parent and child to sign that lists some dangerous activities the child agrees never to do (e.g., never give out one's full name, address, or telephone number or agree to a face-to-face meeting with another user). This is a useful pedagogical tool, especially for parenting younger children, because it provides a concrete set of rules and boundaries for safe and acceptable behavior that parents and children can review and commit themselves to. The guide also discusses how the Internet can be used to emphasize a family's own values through a relational and educational process between parent and child. The Children's Partnership web site posts the guide along with several other resources for parents, including a step-by-step look at what parents can do to work with their children. The guide is also available as a Microsoft powerpoint presentation guide that can be downloaded and used in training. At the time of the workshop, the organization was in the process of posting the results of a national survey on best practices for parent involvement in technology programs and locally available parent training. The Children's Partnership also helped initiate several community technology centers in low-income areas with programs to teach parents and children how
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Page 58 BOX 4-1 Age-Based Tips for Guiding Children's Home Internet Use The Children's Partnership's The Parents' Guide to the Information Superhighway contains a wealth of practical suggestions and information for parents to consider as they make choices that affect their children's Internet use and online activities. The guide notes that while there is little research on the impact of technology on children, it is possible to offer some practical suggestions based on the advice of child development experts for setting age-appropriate guidelines for children's computer use. The following represents an abbreviated list of some of the suggestions contained in the guide. A complete copy of the guide is available at < www.childrenspartnership.org>. Ages 2-3: Computers need not play much of a role in the youngest child's life. However, it doesn't hurt for very young children to see family members using computers and enjoying themselves online. Tips: (1) Put your child in your lap as you “play” on the computer. (2) Look for books and children's video programs like Sesame Street that include images of children and family members using a computer. Ages 4-7: While serious computer use isn't a priority for these youngsters, children at this age can begin to make greater use of computer games and educational products. Tips: (1) Spend as much time as you can with your child while he or she uses the computer. (2) Show lots of tangible results and achievements. For example, print work your child has done on the computer. (3) Share an email address with your child, so you can oversee his or her mail and discuss correspondence. Ages 8-11: This age is when children can begin to directly experience and appreciate more fully the potential of online experiences. For instance, children can begin to use online encyclopedias, download pictures for school reports, or have email pen pals. Tips: (1) Set very clear rules for online use and clear consequences if they are broken. (2) Teach children to let you know if they encounter anything scary or unusual online. (3) Discuss some of the unique aspects of behavior in cyberspace—like anonymity and what it means for your child and for others. Age 12-14: At this age, young people can use the more sophisticated research resources of the information superhighway, accessing everything from the Library of Congress's collection to magazines and newspapers to archives from around the world. Tips: (1) Since children this age are more likely to explore on their
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Page 59 own, set up clear parental rules, limits, and periodic check-ins. (2) Set clear rules about which chat rooms are acceptable for your teenager, and how much time can be spent there. (3) Be sure your children understand the actions that can be taken if people harass them online or do anything inappropriate. (4) Pay particular attention to games that your teenager might download or copy as some of these games are extremely violent. Ages 15-18: The Internet provides a rich resource for older teens, including information about job opportunities, internships, and colleges; applications to create multimedia reports; and specialized help with foreign languages and other school subjects. Tips: (1) Ask your teenager for help researching topics of interest to the family (follow-up on a family discussion, planning a family vacation, etc.). (2) Talk to your teenager about new things online and encourage discussion of new experiences. (3) Make sure your teenager knows the legal implications of online behavior. (4) Watch time limits to make sure your teenager is still pursuing a well-rounded set of activities. (5) If your teenager is especially interested in computers, encourage him or her to help younger children with their online explorations (e.g., at the local Boys or Girls Club). to use the Internet and how to be safe online. The home page of The Children's Partnership links to many of these centers as a additional resource. The Children's Partnership also conducted a series of focus groups with parents to find out what assistance they want with regard to the Internet. The information from these focus groups offers insight into programs that could prove effective in reaching a broader range of parents. In every focus group parents wanted to see a children-only zone with entertaining and educational material that was commercial free. Parents also requested information on important online issues that could accompany their monthly Internet bill or be emailed by their provider. Low-income parents expressed a great interest in more help from schools and teachers in offering education for both children and their parents. Parents also said they would like to see the industry set aside money to fund research on issues pertaining to children and the media. Hands-On Training Eileen Faucette's Live Online program started in response to local interest within the Fort Gordon, Georgia, community to provide a hands-on
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Page 60 orientation to the Internet for parents. Live Online is a series of classes that include topics such as keeping kids safe and productive on the Internet, street smarts for the info highway, email ins and outs, search skills, and online literacy. The objectives of these classes are not to make parents more adept with the computer than their children, but rather to provide parents with enough exposure to the Internet that they feel confident talking with their children about their Internet activities and can set boundaries for activities. Creating effective cyberparents is the goal of the Live Online program, and Faucette tailors the classes to the interests and particular needs of the communities to which she travels. Sometimes Live Online is a series of topical classes, while at other times, Faucette will provide a single demonstration and presentation to raise awareness. Live Online is offered at a number of different locations depending on the needs of the community. A Barnes & Noble bookstore was the location of choice for the Fort Gordon community, while others have taken place at schools, community centers, and even at local businesses. While Live Online serves to educate parents willing to attend a demonstration or class, Faucette had another strategy for conducting outreach with parents who were technophobes or who were unaware of the need to be involved in their children's Internet activities. Faucette's Sneak A-Tech programming involved taking computers to venues that had little to do with technology. For example, Faucette arranged to have computers and an Internet connection at a ladies gardening class and showed the group how to find information about planting, particular flower varieties, and seed availability. Faucette then used the opportunity to bring up issues related to young people, the Internet, and parenting to which the women were considerably more receptive after they had discovered that the Internet was not difficult to deal with and was even relevant to their own interests. She was able to sneak in a technology lesson in a nonthreatening way that the members of the gardening class enjoyed and were receptive to. With many adults, this is a very important first step toward becoming effective cyberparents. Information, training, and hands-on activities such as those offered by The Children's Partnership and PTA Live Online can fill a knowledge gap and thereby assist parents in taking a more active role in their children's online activities. They may do a particularly good job of helping to address Internet safety with parents, although certainly programs could be tailored to facilitate approaches for parents to counteract other types of inappropriate material. The limitations of these projects reflect parents' willingness and ability to participate in such programs as well as their ability to make
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Page 61 parents aware of the availability of such resources. Funding, of course, is always a challenge to such efforts. MONITORING OR MENTORING Monitoring and mentoring represent two sets of strategies that can be used in virtually every context. Schools, libraries, and parents can develop ways to monitor young people's online activities and can provide mentoring opportunities—parents can join their children in Internet surfing, and teachers or aides can work one-on-one with students. Researchers in youth development in attendance at the workshop gave mixed reviews of monitoring as a strategy, stating clearly that its effectiveness depends largely on the particular way in which adults choose to monitor. They stressed the importance of parents being involved and knowing what their kids are doing online. However, they noted that the covert way of monitoring—looking secretly at a file log to determine the child's online visits—can violate trust. Instead, researchers suggested that using monitoring as a way to interact and even mentor young people would be a beneficial approach. Mary Dempsey had several suggestions as to how parents, teachers, and librarians can keep an eye on children's online activities without being intrusive. One option Dempsey mentioned is Cyber Navigators, a program in the Chicago Public Libraries that offers a double benefit by providing personalized monitoring as well as mentors for young people. Cyber Navigators are college students who volunteer to help users with computer technology in the library. After receiving a week of training, they then help young users with the Internet by steering them to beneficial and educational sites, such as the National Science Foundation's web site or Ask Dr. Universe. Young people learn about the Internet and have the opportunity to interact with college students who can be role models. Their monitoring keeps children away from inappropriate or nonenriching material while providing a mini-lesson on Internet use and navigation. Practical tools that help facilitate this type of monitoring include the physical setup and location of the computer. In the Chicago Public Libraries, Internet terminals in the children's area are arranged in a way that allows a librarian to see all of the monitors. In contrast, Internet terminals for adults in the rest of the library have privacy screens so that a young person cannot see an adult's activities, but librarians and Cyber Navigators can see what young people are doing online.
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Page 62 Parents can adapt this strategy at home by keeping the computer in a central location, such as the kitchen or family room, rather than in the privacy of the child's room. A classroom can be set up in a similar manner to the children's section of the library, in that computers can be situated to face the interior of the room so that the monitors are visible. In addition, sign-up sheets can be used to keep track of who is using the computer. In Chicago's libraries this is a necessity due to limited resources (i.e., the number of children wanting to get online exceeds the available computers so the sign-up sheet serves to regulate use). Dempsey observed that the sign-up sheet gives young users a sense of responsibility about how they spend their time online, because they cannot feel that they are anonymous users. Such monitoring strategies as orienting a computer screen so that it is easily viewed by an adult in the room are easy to employ and come at no cost to teachers or parents. Volunteer programs, such as Dempsey's Cyber Navigators, also are virtually cost-free for institutions such as libraries if they have a volunteer pool from which to draw. In addition, Cyber Navigators or approaches like this program provide opportunities for mentoring relationships. Supervision does require the presence of an adult, but this can be turned into a time for adults and young people to interact and talk about numerous types of inappropriate material and safety issues. ACCEPTABLE USE POLICIES An approach to the Internet that can be used in any context in which young people are online is teaching them to be responsible for making good choices about the paths they choose in cyberspace by teaching them acceptable use and then trusting them to make responsible choices. Conveying expectations and boundaries for use to children is a task that any adult can do. A more formalized version of this process is captured in acceptable use policies, a set of guidelines and expectations about how young people will conduct themselves online that are increasingly common in schools. These policies—an example of which is presented in Box 4-2 —vary from school district to school district based on the particular concerns of teachers and parents, but in general they instruct young people that surfing sexually explicit web sites is not appropriate. Increasingly, acceptable use policies also address the material students post and publish online as well. Nancy Willard, director of Responsible Netizen Research at the Center for Advanced Technology in Education, University of Oregon, noted that it is not uncommon for young people themselves to create and disseminate sexually
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Page 63 BOX 4-2 Acceptable Use Policy of Eau Claire Area School District The Eau Claire Area School District offers a good example of policies that establish a set of expectations about the manner in which students and staff will use school networks and technologies. This acceptable use policy sets rules about a number of topics, including guidelines to facilitate safety online, respecting copyrighted material—relevant to preventing students from using the Internet's resources to plagiarize material—as well as forbidding users from using the Internet for activities that are not in support of the educational objectives of the school district. What follows is a summary of the Eau Claire Area School District's acceptable use policy, the full text of which can be found at < www.ecasd.k12.wi.us/departments/technology/network/inetpol.html>. Use of the Internet and Other Computer Networks The Internet is an electronic network connecting thousands of computer networks and millions of individual subscribers all over the world. Access to the Internet will allow students to explore the rich resources of thousands of university libraries, governmental databases, and other online sources while exchanging electronic mail with Internet users throughout the world. Instructional and library materials are routinely evaluated by school district personnel prior to purchase in order to ascertain that such materials are consistent with district goals and guidelines and that they support and enrich the curriculum. However, use of the Internet, because it may lead to any publicly available fileserver in the world, may open classrooms to electronic information resources that have not been screened by educators for use by students. Some items accessible via the Internet may contain material that is inaccurate, defamatory or offensive. Access to the Internet and other computer networks requires that school officials develop guidelines for use. Such guidelines should address the teacher's responsibility for training and guidance, the student's responsibility for appropriate use, and the principal's responsibility for supervising the use. Appropriate Use Guidelines The following guidelines define “appropriate use” of the Internet. 1. All use of school resources to access the Internet must be in support of and consistent with the educational objectives of the Eau Claire Area School District.
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Page 64 2. Transmitting any material in violation of any U.S. or state regulation or school board policy is prohibited. This includes, but is not limited to, copyrighted material and threatening or obscene material. 3. Hate mail, harassment, discriminatory remarks, and other antisocial behaviors are unacceptable in Internet and other network communication. 4. All information accessible via the Internet should be assumed to be private property and subject to copyright protection. Internet sources should be credited appropriately, as with the use of any copyrighted material. See, for instance The Columbia Guide to Online Style: < http://www.columbia.edu/cu/cup/cgos/idx_basic.html> 5. Users have a responsibility to respect the privacy and property of other users. Users should not intentionally seek information about, obtain copies of, or modify files, data, or passwords of other users. 6. For their own safety, users should not reveal any personal information, such as addresses, phone numbers, or photographs. 7. Employing the Internet for commercial purposes is prohibited. 8. Users should not expect that files stored on district servers will always be private. School and network administrators may review files and communications to maintain system integrity and to ensure that the network is being used responsibly. Teachers will inform students of what is considered appropriate use of the Internet, describing student privileges, rights, and responsibilities. As much as possible, teachers will guide students toward materials that have been reviewed and evaluated prior to use. The use of home pages, bookmarks, lists of web sites, and cataloging web sites in the library system will help match Internet resources to the curriculum. Because computer use is essentially an individual experience, however, primary responsibility for appropriate use of the Internet resides with the student. A user agreement form will be signed by the student and parent prior to their use. Failure to follow appropriate practices may result in disciplinary action, including loss of the individual's access to the Internet. Principals will supervise the use of the Internet and other computer networks in their schools. Procedures will be put in place to ensure that students receive appropriate instruction and supervision in the use of the Internet and other computer networks.
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Page 65 explicit pictures as well as harassing, defaming, and stalking other students. Material that disparages or harasses another student and is posted by a peer to a bulletin board can be particularly damaging and painful. For this reason, it is important for acceptable use policies to include rules making young people responsible for the content they create. For an acceptable use policy to be effective, it must be communicated clearly to students and parents, it must come with consequences, and violations of the policies must be disciplined. It also needs to distinguish accidental viewing from deliberate seeking of inappropriate material. The former is best treated as an opportunity to educate the user about how to avoid such content in the future, how to remove it from their screen, and if necessary how to report it to the Internet service provider. A student who intentionally seeks inappropriate material would potentially be dealt with by some stated disciplinary action (e.g., loss of Internet privileges, call to parents, detention). Linda Roberts noted that acceptable use policies are most effective when they are developed in conjunction with parents, community members, teachers, and students. Acceptable use policies developed jointly with the school and the community are more likely to incorporate the particular sensibilities of parents and can be designed to address specific concerns. One community, for example, may be more concerned about accidental exposure to sexually explicit material, while others worry about young people spending time in chat rooms. The process offers an opportunity for the community to consider the balance they want to try to strike between unregulated access to information or a more restricted use of the Internet. Such discourse can prevent future tensions between teachers and parents by allowing difficult and potentially contentious issues to be resolved. Acceptable use policies can be effective in addressing not only sexually explicit material and content posted by students, but also other inappropriate material. These policies are low in cost for institutions, and although they require some effort initially to design, they are neither time- nor labor-intensive to maintain. The challenge in acceptable use policies lies in the extent to which they are clearly communicated to young people and then enforced. RESPONSIBLENETIZENSHIP: KNOWING WHEN AND HOW TO TAKE ACTION Workshop participants noted that young people need to know what action to take if they have a problematic online experience. Nancy Willard
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Page 66 described this skill set as “responsible netizenship.” Willard emphasized the importance of providing young people with action- or response-oriented knowledge that would allow them to recognize and deal effectively with unsafe strangers, online predators, hate group recruiters, and sexual comeons. They must also learn to recognize when they might be vulnerable and what steps to take in problematic situations. For example, she described the typical process through which both sexual predators and hate group recruiters generally approach young people. They try to get as much personal information as possible and then start feeding them “candy” in the form of compliments. This may seem a simplistic and obvious strategy, but a young person—like many unsuspecting adults—may not be impervious to flattery. If the young user responds that they do not have many friends, the next comment might be “that is hard to believe,” or “your peers are really missing out, but you are probably too mature for them,” and so on. Young people need to understand explicitly how this process works, what to expect, how to recognize it, and how to deal with the situation. For example, an appropriate response would be for young people to contact their Internet service provider or to be encouraged to be assertive online in terms of ending contact with another user or declining instant messages from users who harass them. Training in how to be a responsible netizen could come as a part of media and information literacy training, parent educational outreach on children's Internet safety, or as a part of acceptable use policies (e.g., a policy could state that in addition to expecting that young people will avoid sexually explicit material, they are encouraged and expected to take appropriate action if they have an unpleasant encounter with another user). Like other forms of training, feasibility depends on having time in school curricula, funding to offer training in other community settings, and a communication strategy that can bring this issue to the attention of parents, teachers, and other adults. Responsible netizenship is also primarily designed to address experiences in which young people are having problematic instances with other users rather than being exposed to inappropriate web sites. PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT Providing training to teachers, librarians, and parents to increase their efficacy with the Internet in particular and technology in general was noted as another important area for development. Linda Roberts was particularly concerned with the training offered to teachers as a part of becoming certi
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Page 67 fied to teach as well as opportunities for professional development. Curriculum associated with certification should be reformed to include course work on various types of technologies, how to integrate them into the classroom effectively, and how to encourage a productive use of the Internet with a group of students. Roberts also wanted to see the number of professional development opportunities increased so that already-certified teachers have training opportunities to make them skillful users of technology and adept at incorporating technology into their curricula. Mary Dempsey noted the importance of providing technology training to librarians and stated that ongoing training can be an opportunity not only to increase librarians skill with technology, but to also provide a venue for sharing strategies to keep young people on task with productive use of the Internet. Less formalized training in the form of regular meetings among librarians can offer the opportunity for individuals to share new information on technology (e.g., a newly discovered web site that is particularly good) as well as to discuss emerging issues and how to handle them. This less formalized training or knowledge sharing can help to disseminate new strategies individuals have found to be particularly effective in protecting young patrons from inappropriate material.
Representative terms from entire chapter: