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DEFINITIONS

In order to offer useful information to educators, parents, and others supervising children's Internet activities, the workshop talked broadly about the needs of young people and explored strategies that covered a wide age range, from the youngest ages through the end of adolescence. Computer technology and the Internet can enter a child's life very early—babies and toddlers may sit on a parent's lap to play with software oriented to their age, middle school children are now being assigned Internet research projects, and high school students routinely use the Internet. Communities also have varying beliefs about the age through which young people should be protected from inappropriate material.

As noted in the introduction, “inappropriate material” is not easily defined in great part because families, communities, and cultures have very different concepts about what constitutes inappropriate material. For example, in the current U.S. social context, particular concern has centered on children's exposure to pornography and material that may be classified as obscene. In many European countries, however, young people's exposure to graphic violence or hate speech is of greater concern, and sexually explicit material is not perceived to be of significant consequence.

In general, when the term “inappropriate material” is used in this report, it indicates a broad range of material from which communities might wish to shield their children. Workshop participants used “inappropriate material” to include Internet content that is sexually explicit or violent, hate speech such as Nazi and Holocaust-denial sites, material that could encourage young people to engage in illegal or risky behavior (e.g., directions for making bombs, purchasing guns, or pro-drug, alcohol, or tobacco sites), commercial ventures that target children for direct marketing campaigns, and web sites that violate young people's privacy by encouraging them to disclose personal information (e.g., address, home phone number, social security number, parent's credit card).

“Inappropriate material” also may refer to inappropriate contact between an Internet user and a young person. For instance, a young person could receive a sexually explicit instant message from another individual seeking to foster an online relationship that could lead to a face-to-face meeting. An online message represents another way young people can come in contact with inappropriate material, while a face-to-face meeting, if the young person agrees to it, has more serious implications for children's physi-



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