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10 Social and Educational Strategies to Develop Personal and Community Responsibility A preadolescent boy using an Internet-enabled computer in class is surfing the Internet. On his search engine, he comes across a link to a Web site. He raises his hand and tells his teacher, "I think I am about to go somewhere that I shouldn't go." The teacher stops the class and asks the student to explain to the class why he thought his surfing might have been about to take him to a place that he should not have gone. 10.1 FOUNDATIONS OF RESPONSIBLE CHOICE Linda Roberts, then at the Department of Education, told the commit- tee the story described above. The boy involved is arguably less vulner- able to being exposed to inappropriate material on the Internet than if he used any technological blocking mechanism for protection. The reason is that his "filtering mechanism" has been internalized and he has internal criteria for deciding what might constitute inappropriate material. In other words, a child who faces a free choice and chooses respon- sible and ethical options over others is protecting himself. Thus, the issue at hand is one that relates to the sense of ethics and responsibility and the character underlying a free (and often unaided) choice. Indeed, it has been frequently mentioned to the committee that those who really want to obtain inappropriate sexually explicit material on the Internet will generally find ways of doing so, circumventing all technological mea- sures to curtail access to such material. For determined individuals with 218
SOCIAL AND EDUCATIONAL STRATEGIES 219 the technical skills to do so, only a conscious choice to refrain from such seeking will reduce his or her access to these materials. Almost by definition, a child is not yet fully mature, even if, as in the case of adolescents, their physiology may be fully capable of sexual en- gagement. No maturing child is immune to temptation. No curious child is safe from the cyberspace equivalents of touching the hot stove, tum- bling into the unprotected swimming pool, and getting into any "nice man's" car. Children need supervision. They also need love. Parents and teachers provide both. Children need significant adult reference points signifi- cant adults who, in fact, function as reference works. They are there to answer questions and point inquiring minds in the direction of "right" (in the sense of sensible, ethical, correct, and age-appropriate) answers. Ex- perimentation is part of the discovery process; reckless endangerment is not. As children develop morally and ethically, they internalize principles and values that work from within to prompt external actions. Once inter- nalized, they support "habits" and facilitate habitual behavior. Thus the role of ethical and moral education is to articulate guiding principles for the child that can be freely chosen and, once internalized, serve to prompt appropriate behavior. A person of character is a principled person. Sig- nificant adults parents, teachers, coaches, counselors, clergy articulate and explain principles to the young, and the learning role of the latter is to assimilate them. The problem of developing character is compounded by the impor- tant role of community. In real life, the presence of a supportive commu- nity is generally regarded as a major positive factor in the development of an individual's sense of social responsibility and responsible behavior. But in an online environment (especially an anonymous one), a shared sense of community with all of the attendant rights and responsibili- ties is hard to develop among individuals who see the Internet in purely instrumental terms. Anonymity in particular (as would be true in an environment that does not require individual logins, and as is true for much Web surfing) enables individuals to escape responsibility and to avoid negative consequences for inappropriate behavior.2 In any event, encouraging youngsters to become principled persons is no easy task. One path to a principled life focuses on the internalization ~See, for example, Robert Putnam, 2000, Bowling Alone, Simon & Schuster, New York. 2True anonymous Web surfing is possible only if one takes special measures to be anony- mous. Nevertheless, the perception that one is anonymous on the Internet even without taking special measures is strong, and in any case, a perception of anonymity (or at least privacy) can result simply from having a screen that no one else can see.
220 YOUTH, PORNOGRAPHY, AND THE INTERNET of family values, family traditions, and shared meanings within the fam- ily that can help to shape the developing character of a child, and help "explain" why a given youngster chooses to do this or avoid that. For those who are religious, this can include faith-based values in this inter- nalization process. These principles and values can serve to help a child judge what is or is not reasonable in a context broader than the imme- diacy of pleasure and pain, of "getting caught" or "getting away with it." Indeed, an approach based primarily on punishment presupposes that children engaging in inappropriate behavior will be caught misbe- having. As a practical matter, detection of such behavior will often not occur, especially if those children seek to remain undetected. While the fear of punishment will deter some children, others often do things for which they might be caught and punished in spite of that possibility- fear of punishment is not enough to deter these children from things they really want to do. Moreover, the research literature indicates that the threat of punishment per se is not an effective approach to helping indi- viduals internalize codes of behavior.3 While such a threat is sometimes effective in deterring undesirable behavior, individuals who find them- selves free of the threat often revert to the undesired behavior. These comments do not detract from the positive role that punish- ment or discipline may play as one element of an approach to education. It is entirely appropriate to impose sanctions for the deliberate violation of rules if such rules have been explained clearly and discussion with chil- dren about their rationale and purpose has been entertained. But expla- nation and discussion are essential for putting these rules into context as appropriate reflections of parental values. Every parent has the difficult task of determining where trust ends and neglect begins. They want to trust their children, and their children- particularly in the teen years want to be trusted. But parents don't want to be negligent, and their offspring often find it difficult to appreciate the tug-of-war within a parent's heart between the desire to trust and the fear of neglect. Though parents might wish otherwise, there is no clear and simple line of demarcation. For example, as noted in Section 10.4, parents can insist that children not have access to a computer in the privacy of their bedrooms. Better to have it outside in the hall, or downstairs in the family room to have it, in other words, in a place where casual passersby can appear at any time. It is not that the children aren't trusted; it is simply an acknowledgment that 3see, for example, M.~. Hoffman, igss, ''Morai Development,,, in Developmental Psychol- ogy: An Advanced Textbook, 2nd Ed., M.H. sornstein and M.E. Lamb, eds., Erlbaum, Hillsdale, N.J.; and G.H. srody and D.R. Shaffer, 1982, '~Contributions of Parents and Peers to Chil- dren~s Moral Socialization,,, Developmental Review 2: 31-75.
SOCIAL AND EDUCATIONAL STRATEGIES 221 children are children and are more likely to do the right thing when they know they might be observed. By extension, the character issue touches what is commonly referred to as "socially responsible business." This is an area of practical, applied business ethics. As in any other industry, those in the adult entertain- ment industry have a social responsibility not only to provide return to shareholders but also to behave in ways that promote the good of society. Because society's best hope for a better future lies with its children, all businesses have responsibilities for helping and not hindering the young along a safe path to mature character development. One dimension of that responsibility is to engage in business lines and practices that uphold human dignity and refrain from exploitation. But a perhaps more important dimension is to help create an environment in which children can play, learn, and explore without fear of coming across material that is inappropriate for them. Thus, for example, entirely apart from legal requirements to do so, those in the adult online industry have important ethical and moral responsibilities to keep their material away from children, even if that has some negative financial implications. 10.2 DEFINITION OF A SOCIAL OR EDUCATIONAL STRATEGY For purposes of this report, social or educational strategies are coordi- nated plans of action that seek to develop in young people the ability to make responsible and safe choices about Internet use, to make good deci- sions about content to be viewed, to reduce their exposure to inappropriate material, and to mitigate the consequences, if any, of viewing inappropriate material. These strategies include activities that educate parents and young people on Internet use and address a variety of issues arising from online use, such as how to reduce exposure to inappropriate material and how to give young people skills to mitigate any possible effects they might experi- ence from encountering sexually explicit or inappropriate material online. Through its deliberations and on the basis of testimony and other information received, the committee has found that social and educa- tional strategies are foundational for children's safe, effective, and appro- priate use of the Internet. This is not to say that technology plays no role indeed, many technological tools can support the development and teaching of skills, attitudes, and ethical codes of behavior that will enable young people to use the Internet appropriately. Rather, exclusive or even primary reliance on technological measures for protection would be an abdication of parental and community responsibility and is likely to be ineffective as well. Table 10.1 provides an overview of the social and educational strate- gies described in this report.
222 YOUTH, PORNOGRAPHY, AND THE INTERNET TABLE 10.1 Social and Educational Strategies for Protecting Children on the Internet Description One Illus Parental supervision Peer assistance Acceptable use policies (AUPs) Internet safety education (ISE) Information and media (I/M) literacy Compelling content Media campaigns Active, in-person supervision of child's Internet use Help provided by sibling or peer mentor acting as guide to child's use of the Internet Statement explicating in detail what constitutes acceptable and unacceptable use of the Internet and what consequences flow from the latter Explicit instruction on what constitutes safe Internet behavior and how to recognize dangerous, inappropriate situations Facility in using critical reasoning skills to obtain information sought and to evaluate the content of information that . . . IS reCelVea Content specifically designed to appeal to children that is non-commercial and educational and/or positive in orientation Initiatives featuring media spots and public service announcements about the nature of the Internet, the potential dangers of Internet activity for children, and parental options for exerting influence 10.3 CONTEXTUAL ISSUES FOR SOCIAL AND EDUCATIONAL STRATEGIES New technology often does not live up to its promises. One reason is that because technology changes rapidly for everyone, technology tools developed to solve problems exposed by other technological develop- ments may be quickly rendered obsolete. But a more important reason is that the underlying issues are social. It is true that the Internet may have
SOCIAL AND EDUCATIONAL STRATEGIES ldren on 223 One Illustrative Advantage One Illustrative Disadvantage Provides closest connection to the values that the parent wishes to impart to child Provides guidance and influence to which children may be more responsive (com- pared to parental advice or assistance) Provides clear behavioral guidelines for child about what should and should not be done Provides clear guidance for child about how to conduct himself or herself on the Internet Emphasizes critical reasoning skills that are valuable in many contexts other than Internet use Availability of such material would help to divert children's attention from inappropriate materials and experiences Can contribute a basic awareness of the issues in a broad segment of the population Probably not feasible to provide constant active supervision of child's Internet access, especially as child gets older Older sibling may lead younger one into trouble; non-family peer mentors may spend little time with child Infractions of AUP may not be discovered; without concerted attention, may become just one more form to be filled out No obvious forum in most existing curricula to include ISE No obvious forum in most existing curricula to include I/M literacy Child market not preferred by most businesses because adult market is more lucrative Absent follow-through in other non- media channels, significant constructive behavioral changes in parents are unlikely exacerbated public concerns about the access of young people to inappro- priate sexually explicit material, but the Internet is more a symptom than the basic issue. Furthermore, those who really want to disseminate inap- propriate materials or find inappropriate materials on the Internet have proven adept at circumventing technology-based solutions. As the tech- nology improves, so also do its circumventers, in a never-ending game of action and reaction. This pattern is repeated in almost every instance where technology is used to thwart undesirable behavior.
224 YOUTH, PORNOGRAPHY, AND THE INTERNET The committee believes that the fundamental issue is how to teach a young person to make wise choices, to stay in control of his or her online experiences, to be critical and skeptical about the underlying messages in advertising and romanticized and sexualized images, and to report other users soliciting personal information or harassing them. A young person who has been taught effectively about such matters will bring that training to any device that he or she uses and in any venue that offers online access. An analogy might be drawn to children and swimming pools. Swim- ming pools pose some threat to the safety and well-being of children. But swimming pools provide benefits to their owners and children in many different ways. Technology in the form of fences around pools, pool alarms, and locks can help protect children from drowning in swimming pools. However, teaching a child to swim and when to avoid pools is a far safer approach than relying on locks, fences, and alarms to prevent him or her from drowning. Does this mean that parents should not buy fences, alarms, and locks? Of course not because they do provide some benefit. But parents cannot rely exclusively on these devices to keep their children safe from drowning, and most parents recognize that a child who knows how to swim is less likely to be harmed than one who does not. Further- more, teaching a child to swim and to exercise good judgment about bodies of water to avoid has applicability and relevance far beyond swimming pools as any parent who takes a child to the beach can testify. Note also that social and educational strategies are the only way to deal with young people determined to seek out inappropriate material. Those who are determined are bound to find ways to circumvent any technologi- cal measures; to the extent that social and educational strategies can reduce the desire and motivation for seeking out inappropriate material or engag- ing in inappropriate activities, such behavior can be reduced. When tech- nological protection does not work, or when it is not present, the individual involved must rely on his or her own internal resources to cope with the issue, whether it is in choosing to refrain from "getting into trouble" or knowing how to cope with whatever trouble arises. In designing social and educational strategies, developmental issues are critical. For example, very young children are generally not capable of handling a full range of unconstrained choices. However, as they gradu- ally mature, it is usually appropriate to give them a wider range of choices and increasing amounts of responsibility. Of course, the nature and scope of increased freedoms to choose are not generally based solely on age, but for most young people, age is a relevant factor in teaching them increas- ingly mature and responsible behavior.4 4In some ways, the developmental issue is similar to that of learning to drive. Licenses for driving an automobile in all states are graduated to some extent Learners permit and
SOCIAL AND EDUCATIONAL STRATEGIES 225 For example, one time-honored practice of good parenting is to teach children to make responsible decisions by sharply constraining their choices at first and then broadening the universe of choices as they grow more mature and more capable of making informed and wise decisions. Of course, under these circumstances, children may make some mistakes and injudicious choices. But when the universe of choices is limited to those that are at least minimally acceptable, children have a chance to learn how to make good choices by exercising choice. Further, the decision-making skills they acquire in doing so can be carried over to their later lives in which the universe of choices is not composed exclusively of safe options. A major point to be considered about social and educational strate- gies is that they are not simple to implement. They require forethought, planning, and extensive follow-through. They can be costly, both in terms of dollars and in terms of time. Often, they conflict with other pressing needs. For example, most K-12 curricula are already overloaded, and information and media literacy curricula must compete for time in the schedule with physical education, sex education, consumer literacy, and a variety of other pressures on the curriculum. Pediatricians, who can speak with youth about safety and puberty, and must complete health forms to be submitted to schools, have limited time with each of their young pa- tients. Parental efforts must compete with making sure that children clean their rooms, do their homework, get to the soccer or basketball game on time, avoid unhealthy use of drugs and alcohol, and so on. On the other hand, if the problem of exposure to inappropriate mate- rials and experiences is as severe and consequential as many parents believe it to be, there is no particular evidence indicating that the cost of such programs is exorbitant. Moreover, the benefits that accrue from effective social and educational strategies go far beyond protecting chil- dren and youth from inappropriate sexually explicit material. They have relevance to many situations that individuals are likely to encounter, both online and offline, and will help them to navigate their Internet experi- ences with confidence and wisdom. 10.4 PARENTAL INVOLVEMENT AND SUPERVISION There is a broad consensus that the best approach to protecting young people on the Internet from inappropriate material and online predators full driving privileges), and in some cases more finely (e.g., teens with solo driving privi- leges only during the day). While the notion of government licensing for using the Internet is not particularly appealing or sensible, the idea of age-based expectations for appropriate Internet use makes developmental sense. Parents may wish to consider what skills and knowledge related to the Internet they want their children to have before they give them different degrees of unsupervised Internet access.
226 YOUTH, PORNOGRAPHY, AND THE INTERNET is the attentive presence of a responsible parent, teacher, librarian, or mentor who is available to provide help and guidance, and to intervene when necessary. While this image does characterize some family situa- tions, parents in most families are pressed for time. Parents in many fami- lies today face long workdays, long commutes, and considerable work- related overnight travel. Single-parent households are common, as are families in which both parents work full time. These facts suggest that continual in-person supervision of a child's Internet usage by a parent is not likely to be achieved by many families. Notwithstanding limits on the time that parents have available, par- ents can still take actions in the home setting that can help their children to develop a sense of safe Internet use. No one action is definitive, and nothing effective can be done just once, but no sensible parent has ever imagined that the task of parenting and of teaching one's children the skills in navigating through any aspect of life would be easy. · Parents can develop a basic understanding of what is on the Internet and what their children can do with it. The Internet world that most adults inhabit is far more work-centered than the one inhabited by most children, which focuses on social interaction, entertainment, and spontaneous play to a far greater degree. (This suggestion is not much different from the advice given in a non-Internet context that parents should be aware of the movies and TV shows and music that engage a child's attention.) Such understanding is useful from two perspectives. Parents who do not know what their children can do and see on the Internet may be overly complacent about the dangers to their children. Also, parents who do not know the routes through which their children can be exposed to such inappropriate material and dangerous experiences may be exces- sively fearful because they lack perspective on the ease or frequency with which such exposures might occur. It is noteworthy that a Pew Internet and American Life survey found that parents who do not use the Internet themselves generally tend to be more concerned for their children's Inter- net safety than parents with more online experience.5 Parents also learn from more experienced parents, child-care work- ers, and pediatricians, about age-appropriate "harm prevention" steps to take in homes: remove lead paint; install child-resistant clips on drawers where chemicals, knives, or guns are kept; install child-resistant covers for electric outlets; teach children never to use the stove without an adult 5Pew Internet Project. 2001. Teenage Life Online: The Rise of the Instant-message Generation and the Internet's Impact on Friendships and Family Relationships. Pew Internet and American Life Project, Washington, D.C. Available online at <http://www.pewinternet.org/reports/ reports.asp?Report=36&Section=ReportLevel2&Field=Level2ID&ID=217>.
SOCIAL AND EDUCATIONAL STRATEGIES 227 present; obtain and use bicycle helmets; and so on. Inquiries to these more experienced and knowledgeable individuals could result in analo- gous recommendations to new parents regarding Internet safety. · Computers can be located in such a way that private, solitary viewing by children is not possible. For example, computers located in private bed- rooms cannot be supervised as easily as computers in public spaces (e.g., in family rooms or dens). When the potential exists for a responsible adult to happen across a screen displaying possibly inappropriate mate- rial while the child is there, the child is likely to be motivated to refrain from deliberate misbehavior. Moreover, if the child encounters some- thing upsetting or inappropriate by mistake, it is more likely that he or she can obtain help more quickly and spontaneously. Also, if a computer is located in a public space, the adult supervisor can more easily wander over to inquire about what the child is doing. · Parents and their children can discuss household rules and expectations for a child's use of the Internet. Issues to discuss may included When and under what circumstances Internet use is permissible, The amount of time that a child may spend using the Internet, The types of activities and Web sites that are acceptable and unacceptable, Internet, and What information may be given out or disclosed when using the What should be done if the child becomes uncomfortable in us- ing the Internet. It may also be helpful for parents and children to discuss expectations for the use of the Internet at school. Depending on a given family's values, a school's acceptable use policy may allow certain Web sites or activities to which a parent might object. · Parents can explicitly provide instruction and guidance to their children about inappropriate activities and explain why their viewing of sexually explicit materials may be inappropriate. Parents at one committee site visit went so far as to argue that the best way to educate children about inappropriate sites was to show them some inappropriate sites and engage in a conver- sation with them about why they were inappropriate. For these parents (and for a number of those who testified to the committee as well), the problem posed by sexually explicit material was not inherent in the sexual explicitness of the material itself, but rather the lack of a responsibly presented explanatory context. In other words, the concern was not so 6This list is derived from Nancy Willard, 2001, "Supporting the Safe and Responsible Use of the Internet by Students: A Children's Internet Protection Act Planning Guide," Center for Advanced Technology in Education, College of Education, University of Oregon, avail- able online at <http://netizen.uoregon.edu/documents/cipa.html>.
228 YOUTH, PORNOGRAPHY, AND THE INTERNET much that exposure to the material itself would be harmful, as the fact that without good explanations for why the material was inappropriate, children would get the wrong messages from it. · Parents can set limits for how much time a child may spend online. When time is constrained, people are more likely to concentrate on the activities that they value most highly. To the extent that children seek out inappropriate material out of idle curiosity, these are the activities that are most likely to be curtailed in the presence of time limits. · Parents can become more aware of tools and programs for Internet safety already available to them. For example, parents may not know about the resources of GetNetWise (Box 10.1) or about the suggestions on the Children's Partnership Web site on strategies they can use at home to guide their children's Internet use (Box 10.2~. Parents may also not know about the educational programs offered by their local libraries or by non-profit groups in their area and as such are missing other oppor- tunities to receive training and assistance in this effort (Box 10.3 pro- vides an example). · Parents can learn to deal with the fact that their children may be more adept technologically than they are. It is accepted wisdom that many chil- dren especially adolescents know more about technology than do their
SOCIAL AND EDUCATIONAL STRATEGIES 229
230 YOUTH, PORNOGRAPHY, AND THE INTERNET
SOCIAL AND EDUCATIONAL STRATEGIES 231 parents, and this often makes parents feel inadequate or incapable of pro- viding guidance or setting boundaries about their children's Bernet activi- ties. Yet, while many children have superior technical skills, parents are still role models capable of exerting strong influence over the social, moral, and ethical development of their children. Furthermore, a noteworthy body of research indicates that parental involvement in their children's media activities is beneficial for young people's development.7 To cope win a lack of technical knowledge, parents can learn about the technology, as described above. They can also learn about Me technology from their children, and learn to listen nonjudgmentally so Mat the child will feel freer to explore situations in which parental input may be helpful. · Parents can be aware that their children are often more confident in their abilities to handle themselves online than their actual abilities warrant. For example, a study by the Girl Scout Research Institute found that girls sometimes "rely too much on their own judgment in making decisions about how to behave online. When asked how they know what is safe or unsafe behavior on the Internet, 84 percent of online respondents cited their own common sense. By contrast, 51 percent of these girls cited learn- ing from parents, 46 percent said television and the media, 29 percent said teachers, 29 percent said friends, and 4 percent said, 'Nothing is that bad online because it is not really real."'8 In one committee site visit, a girl of about 15 said that she would never meet anyone face-to-face if she felt uncomfortable about him (or her). She also said she knew that people lied all the time online. But 30 seconds later she said that she could tell when people were lying and that she trusted her instincts. · Parents can set good examples for responsible Internet use. For ex- ample, a parent who views sexually explicit imagery online may well leave traces of such viewing available for his or her child to find later. This may be quite all right if the parent would not object to his or her child seeing such material. But a parent who would object would not be wise to undertake activities that would raise questions in his or her child's mind. Also, a parent who demonstrates a disregard for the privacy of his or her children may find that they are less than careful with respect to marketers and survey takers about sensitive family information such as income or buying practices. Put another way, if a parent tracks a child's online behavior and the child has no privacy, then the child may not respect 7National Research Council and Institute of Medicine. 2001. Nontechnical Strategies to Reduce Children's Exposure to Inappropriate Material on the Internet: Summary of a Workshop. Board on Children, Youth, and Families and Computer Science and Telecommunications Board, Joah G. Iannotta, ea., National Academy Press, Washington, D.C. 8Whitney Roban. 2002. The Net Effect: Girls and New Media. Girl Scout Research Institute, New York. Available online at <http://www.girlscouts.org/about/PDFs/NetEffects.pdf>.
232 YOUTH, PORNOGRAPHY, AND THE INTERNET family privacy if and when opportunities arise to profit from other family members' private information. A second example arises with the idea of parental review of the sites visited by youngsters on the Internet. If children know this is happening, will they welcome it as a necessary "governor" of their choices, or resent it as a violation of their privacy and an indication that they are not trusted? At younger ages, they are likely to not object, but as children get older, they often develop a sense of personal space about which they are very protective. The difficulties of engaging in effective parental communications with children are significant and parents who think they are talking effec- tively with their children about Internet use may not in fact be doing so. For example, a survey taken by the Kaiser Family Foundation and Na- tional Public Radio in 2001 noted that parents were more likely than their children to think that they have rules in place about what their children can do on the computer that is, about three-fourths of all parents inter- viewed said that they have such rules, but only half of all children inter- viewed agreed.9 Further, only 38 percent of older children (aged 14 to 17) said that their parents know "a lot" about the things they do on the Internet and the Web sites they visit. The discussion above regarding things that parents can do to pro- mote and facilitate the safety of their children on the Internet is presented only in outline form, and the committee does not believe that, by them- selves, these guidelines and tips provide an actionable agenda. To be a real guide for concrete action, much more in the way of specifics is needed. However, to the committee's knowledge, there is no comprehensive curriculum for parental education about the Internet. Many of today's workshops emphasize what parents must be afraid of, but they omit affir- mative steps that parents can take. As one example, the list above suggests that parents talk to their children about what counts as inappropriate mate- rial. But such conversations can be very awkward for parents. What are some sample dialogs or approaches that a parent might use to raise the subject? Providing such dialogs is beyond the scope of this report, but resources must be made available to help parents address such issues. Box 10.4 provides some speculations on ideas for promoting parental education (and Internet safety education, which is discussed in Section 10.8.1). 9See <http: / /www.npr.org/programs/specials/poll/technology/>.
SOCIAL AND EDUCATIONAL STRATEGIES 233 10.5 PEER ASSISTANCE For certain topic areas, many and perhaps most youth learn as much from peers or near-peers (e.g., siblings) as they do from parents, teachers, and other adult figures. Indeed, a Department of Justice report finds that [F]or many children, having an older youth to talk to and spend time with someone who provides encouragement and friendship can mean the difference between dropping out of school and graduating, or between getting involved with drugs and developing the strength and self-confidence to resist such pressures. Youth involved in mentoring programs, in fact, have been shown to be less likely to experiment with drugs, less likely to be physically aggressive, and less likely to skip school than those not involved in such programs. Peer mentors provide the important extra support that many younger people need to make it through a difficult period in their lives when peer pressure and the desire to fit in are strong influences.... Peer mentoring programs match older youth with young students in one-on-one relationships to provide guidance for the children. Through this special relationship, peer men-
234 YOUTH, PORNOGRAPHY, AND THE INTERNET tors provide advice and support and serve as role models for younger people who need helpful Of course, mentoring is also beneficial for the older youth in that they are put in a position of responsibility and often rise wonderfully to the task. Older youth may be more likely to stay out of trouble and make even better decisions because they know that they have someone watching and potentially imitating their behavior. Given research supporting the notion that peer or near-peer mentoring of youth may be quite helpful to some young people in avoiding crime and drugs and staying in school, it is not unreasonable to suppose that such relationships may be helpful in promoting appropriate use of the Internet. For example, a program of the Chicago Public Libraries trains college stu- dent volunteers to help users with computer technology in the library. They receive a week of training, and then they wander the floors of the library to help young users on the Internet. For example, they provide surfing suggestions that steer users to educational sites. These young users learn about the Internet but also have the opportunity to interact with somewhat older college students who serve as role models. Not inciden- tally, these volunteers also provide monitoring of usage that helps to keep children away from inappropriate or non-enriching Internet material. Older siblings can be a particularly rich source of peer assistance. For example, in a number of site visits, older adolescents often expressed concern about the Internet experiences of their younger siblings, and tried to help them stay out of trouble on the Internet by providing advice and guiding them to appropriate sites. Note also that summer programs (e.g., camps) could also provide Internet safety instruction in an environment where youth are relaxed. Camp counselors are often older youth and may be able to provide semi- structured mentoring and guidance. Peer assistance works best when there is a broad consensus among the peers that certain behavior is inappropriate or unsafe. Thus, peer assistance is likely to be most effective in steering children away from, say, would-be child molesters or racist or hate sites. However, if the peer assisters themselves do not believe that exposure to adult-oriented, sexu- ally explicit material is a big deal (as may be the case for some individu- als), they are less likely to be as vigilant or zealous in their efforts to provide assistance. 10See Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, 1999, Mentoring A Proven nP1inn~lPnr~l PrP77Pntinn .9trntP~' Thy. D~n~rtm~nt of T~tir~, Washington, D.C., available / ~ D~' r ~ online at <http: / /www.ncjrs.org/html/youthbulletin/99074/mentor-*.html> (where "*" ranges from 1 through 8).
SOCIAL AND EDUCATIONAL STRATEGIES 10.6 ACCEPTABLE USE POLICIES 235 An acceptable use policy (AUP) is a set of guidelines and expectations about how individuals will conduct themselves online.ll AUPs are in- creasingly common in schools, and they are applicable to home and li- brary use as well (especially when Internet access is conditioned on ac- cepting terms that accompany a library card). AUPs vary, but they almost always contain provisions against viewing sexually explicit Web sites, and perhaps other kinds of material (e.g., instructions for bomb making, hate sites). AUPs can also address outgoing material, such as child-posted e-mail and Web sites such provisions are generally directed toward the possibility that one child might create and disseminate sexually explicit pictures as well as harass, defame, and stalk other children. Furthermore, AUPs must be acknowledged explicitly by those affected. An example of one school's AUP is provided in Box 10.5. The theory of the AUP is that by making young people responsible for the content they create and the behavior that they demonstrate, they will learn to be responsible for making good choices about the "paths" they choose in cyberspace, thereby learning skills that are relevant and helpful in any venue of Internet usage. Of course, for an AUP to be effective, deliberate violations cannot go without response or sanction (e.g., loss of Internet privileges, call to parents, detention if violations occur in a school context, grounding if in a home context). Accidental violations should be seen as an opportunity to educate the user about how to avoid such content in the future, how to remove it from the screen, and if necessary how to report it to an Internet service provider. Furthermore, AUPs must be read, and young people must take them seriously. In a number of site visits, students appeared relatively igno- rant of what their school's AUP stated. A number of teachers noted that they believed AUPs were not generally read, because they were simply one of a large number of forms that students had to bring back signed. (This is consistent with recent research suggesting that students often do not recall the content of the AUPs they signed earlier in a school year, and with the finding that some who signed them do not even remember hav- ing done so).l2 Thus, some explicit attention in the school, library, or family to the AUP is warranted to underscore its importance. 1lThe term "AUP" is sometimes applied by Internet service providers to their rules of use; more generally, such rules are known as terms of service. Terms of service for ISPs are not intended to govern children's use of the Internet, but rather are put into place to protect the ISP from legal liability and conduct (such as sending spam) that reduces network efficiency. 12Janet W. Schofield and Ann L. Davidson. 2002. Bringing the Internet to School: Lessons from an Urban District. Jossey-Bass, New York, pp. 319-320.
236 YOUTH, PORNOGRAPHY, AND THE INTERNET As a rule, AUPs are most effective when they are developed in con- junction with parents, community members, teachers, school library me- dia experts, school administrators, and students. AUPs developed jointly with the school and community are more likely to incorporate the par- ticular sensibilities of parents and can be designed to address specific concerns, resulting in higher degrees of buy-in, acceptance, and legiti-
SOCIAL AND EDUCATIONAL STRATEGIES 237 macy. For example, one community may be more concerned about the exposure of young people to sexually explicit material while another might worry more about the consequences of young people spending time in chat rooms. The development of an AUP through extensive com- munity involvement including those affected can sometimes be pain- ful, but the process offers the community a chance to consider the balance
238 YOUTH, PORNOGRAPHY, AND THE INTERNET it wants to try to strike between entirely unregulated Internet access and more-restricted use. Such discourse can prevent future tensions among community members (e.g., students, teachers, parents, library patrons) by allowing difficult and potentially contentious issues to be resolved. Note also that the contents of an AUP are likely to need updating as the con- cerns of the community evolve. Thus, some mechanism for periodic re- view is an essential aspect of AUP formulation. In addition, how an AUP is presented to the community can affect its success. If it is presented in the absence of explanation or context, neither students nor parents are likely to understand its rationale for being. Thus, context-setting activities such as parents being given some instruction on using the Internet (e.g., Section 10.4) might well accompany the in- troduction of an AUP to the community. While increasingly common, AUPs do raise a number of issues. · To what extent, if at all, should an AUP for a young person set the expectations for adult behavior and use? An argument for similarity is that an AUP gains in legitimacy (with all of the desirable consequences for behavioral adherence) when it is seen to be uniformly applied. An argument for difference is that the legitimate needs of adult supervisors (parents, librarians, teachers, and so on) are different in some ways from those of children while harassment may never be appropriate for any- one to engage in, adults may need access to a different set of information on Web sites than do children. · AUPs that do not differentiate between the needs of younger and older children are likely to be overconstraining or underconstraining to one group or another. For example, older adolescents may need access to a different set of information on Web sites than primary school children do. An AUP that imposes on these older children restrictions that are designed for younger children does not provide a realistic code of behav- ior for these older children. · An AUP states behavioral goals. But after policy statements have been distributed and signatures on AUP forms gathered, a key question remains to what extent are students and library patrons in fact comply- ing with a given AUP? Some estimate of compliance can be derived from data about violations, a point that suggests that such data must be kept and tabulated if a broad understanding of an AUP's effectiveness is to be achieved. But walk-by monitoring may be of limited effectiveness simply because the personnel are not available in sufficient numbers to check usage regularly, and children themselves may not be entirely forthcom- ing if they violate the policy deliberately. (In this regard, the problem raised by AUPs is similar to those raised by any honor code.) However, technical tools for monitoring Web usage in the aggregate (without indi-
SOCIAL AND EDUCATIONAL STRATEGIES 239 vidual tracking of users) can provide important information on conform- ance to an AUP. This point is discussed further in Chapter 12. · Many users of AUPs are drawn to them because they provide a broad "catch-all" for behavior that may be objectionable but not explicitly listed as inappropriate. For example, the prohibitions on viewing sexu- ally explicit adult Web sites complement the restrictions imposed by fil- ters that block many but not all such sites. Thus, a student who takes advantage of underblocking in a filter to reach a sexually explicit adult Web site is still subject to sanctions for violating the AUP. Of course, the logical complement to this argument is that a student who gets into trouble for violating an AUP may well argue, "If it was against policy, why wasn't it filtered?" A student who does not understand the limita- tions of technology may therefore feel that he or she has been treated unjustly for violating an AUP. · More generally, AUPs must clearly specify what material or be- havior counts as inappropriate if they are to be useful as guides to behav- ior. Actions taken to penalize inappropriate behavior or access to inap- propriate materials may well be subject to legal challenge in the absence of clear specifications. · To what extent, if any, does the existence of an AUP shield a school or library from liability? To the committee's knowledge, there is not a body of case law that establishes the existence and use of AUPs as part of a defense against liability for improper use of school or library computer facilities. However, in the case law of discrimination and harassment, the courts have establishedl3 that the existence of internal policies or practices is an important element of an affirmative defense against such allega- tions,l4 and the logic of this case law might carry over to the use of AUPs. · AUPs define responsibilities that users have. A complementary issue is the nature and scope of rights that users have. In particular, a question arises regarding the extent to which an individual has rights to obtain information that go beyond what a parent might be willing to grant. What kinds of information, if any, would be in this category? Many librarians and others acting in a supervisory but non-parental role would argue that it is important for a children (especially older adoles- cents) to have access to some such information. Some examples offered by these individuals include information about other races and cultures, Faragher v. City of Boca Raton, 524 U.S. 775 (1998~. 14Lauren B. Edelman, Christopher Uggen, and Howard S. Erlanger. 1999. "The Endogen- eity of Legal Regulation: Grievance Procedures as Rational Myth," American Journal of Soci- ology 105(2): 406-454.
240 YOUTH, PORNOGRAPHY, AND THE INTERNET other religions, evolution, contraception, homosexuality, guns, and pre- vention of sexually transmitted diseases.l5 The Children's Internet Protection Act (discussed in Chapter 4) re- quires that many schools and libraries develop an "Internet Safety Plan" that addresses "access by minors to inappropriate matter on the Internet and World Wide Web; safety and security of minors when using elec- tronic mail, chat rooms, and other forms of direct electronic communica- tions; unauthorized online access by minors, including 'hacking' and other unlawful activities; unauthorized disclosure, use, and dissemination of personal information regarding minors; and measures designed to re- strict minors' access to materials harmful to minors.''l6 Note the strong similarity between the mandated Internet Safety Plan and what is covered in most AUPs. 10.7 AFTER-THE-FACT STRATEGIES It is highly likely that children will, from time to time, encounter inappropriate sexually explicit material. Thus, it is reasonable to consider what a child might do after such exposure in order to minimize whatever deleterious effects, if any, might occur. Perhaps the most important point for adults to keep in mind is that many children may be better able to handle exposure to inappropriate material than adults give them credit for. As noted in Chapter 5, most of the older teenagers with whom the committee spoke reported that today much of the sexually explicit material they encountered online was not a big deal to them. Even younger teenagers in particular the teen Cyber- angelsl7 who testified to the committee seem to have been exposed to such material without apparent harm. Nevertheless, parents and other adults do have a responsibility to help children cope with inadvertent exposure to inappropriate Internet material or experiences. One obvious strategy is for a child so exposed, if 15In practice, it would be quite difficult for a parent to make an individual decision about every accessible Web page of information or every book in a library to which a child has access. But the notion does underlie an important thought question: assuming that this array of decisions could be encoded on a smart library card, so that the child could never have access to information to which a parent objected, how would parents, librarians, and teachers wish to proceed? 16P.L. 106-554, § law, 114 Stat. 2763 (2001~. A good summary of the provisions of the CIPA can be found online at <http://www.cybertelecom.org/cda/cipatext.htm#1712>. 17These teenagers were members of Teenangels, a group of specially trained 13- to 17- year-old volunteers for the Cyberangels online safety organization (see <http://www.cyber angels.com>).
SOCIAL AND EDUCATIONAL STRATEGIES 241 he or she is upset, to seek assistance from an adultparent, teacher, and so on. However, for the child to be willing to seek assistance, the adult must not penalize him or her for doing so. Recall that many teens re- ported to the committee that they had been upset in their first accidental encounters with sexually explicit material on the Internet not because of the scenes depicted, but because of their concerns about parental (over-) reactions. Schools, too, have been known to overreact, and it should be noted that children talk to parents and other adults more freely if conver- sation can occur in an open and accepting rather than in a punitive or judgmental environment. Thus, such encounters should be regarded as teachable moments in which the child can learn from the adults around him or her. A second strategy is to seek help independently, though knowing how to obtain help is sometimes difficult. For example, some ISPs pro- vide methods for reporting of spam e-mail, whether they involve inap- propriate sexually explicit material or other kinds of material, harassing instant messages (IMs), e-mail, or offensive chat room dialog. However, one would be well advised to understand the mechanics of how to get help before one encounters a problem. A third empowering strategy is to provide the child with instruction on how to report the offensive material to an appropriate party. For example, if offensive material is passed by a filter, it might reduce the child's feeling of being victimized if he or she could report it to the parties determining the filtering policy. In the context of schools, a student who is inadvertently exposed must have a clear and safe path for reporting such an incident. By doing so, he or she can avoid allegations of inten- tional access as well as help the school better understand how such acci- dental access occurred and how it might be better prevented in the future. Another dimension of after-the-fact strategies involves the possibility that a young person is being "groomed" by a predator. Parents should be aware that such engagements can happen in spite of their admonitions to their children to avoid strangers. Thus, it is particularly important to maintain open channels of communication in which a child can share experiences and feelings about being online. Note also that a young person may feel guilty about turning on an online friend. Also, in some cases, a teenager may well tell a peer about intentions to meet with some- one that he or she has met online. Thus, peers and older teens can often play a role in helping their friends and siblings by trying to talk them out of going to a meeting or alerting an adult. lain this context, the term "turning on Joe" means reporting to responsible authority that Joe wants to meet, even if Joe has told the child not to tell anyone.
242 YOUTH, PORNOGRAPHY, AND THE INTERNET Note that after-the-fact strategies are consistent with the discussion in Section 12.4 about instant help. 10.8 EDUCATION 10.8.1 Internet Safety Education In the physical world, safety education for children involves things such as teaching children how to cross the street safely, how to deal with strangers approaching them, and how to react when there is a fire in the house. Such strategies are taught to children so that they will be better able to avoid situations in which they might be harmed, and to deal with these situations better if they should find themselves in one. Safety education for children on the Internet has similar goals. While many students to whom the committee spoke said that they learned to be safe on the Internet through experience, explicit Internet safety education (ISE) provides children with dos and don'ts that decrease the likelihood that they will have an unsafe experience online. It also provides strategies for children who do happen to encounter unsafe situations.~9 ISE is an application and extension of the critical thinking and judgment skills that parents and teachers and communities hope to instill in children to cope with other dangers in life. Further, it requires awareness of the dangers so that they will not be surprised when they encounter them. Three examples of ISE include the following: · For young people who might encounter a stranger online, it is helpful for them to know about how sexual predators and hate group recruiters typically operate. In particular, they obtain as much personal information as possible and then, armed with such information, provide compliments, positive statements, and other flattery in order to build an emotional bond with their target. An example might be that if the young person says that he does not have many friends, the stranger might say "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, often taught to be polite to others, should understand explicitly how such a "seduction" process works, what to expect, how to recognize it, and how to deal with the situation, and may need to be taught how to be assertive online in ending contact with another user or declining and/or blocking instant messages from users who harass them. For purposes of this discussion, "unsafe" is construed broadly. That is, an unsafe Internet experience is defined here as one that makes the child feel uncomfortable, or one that an adult would feel was inappropriate and potentially harmful for the child.
SOCIAL AND EDUCATIONAL STRATEGIES 243 · Recognizing an impending access to inappropriate material es- pecially material of an adult nature is a helpful skill as well. For ex- ample, while most experienced Web surfers know how to use the few lines of text accompanying a link that is returned by a search engine, novice surfers do not. For these individuals, identifying some of the key- words that flag sexually explicit adult-oriented material and how they are displayed in a search engine's "returned links" may be helpful. Similar strategies are likely to be useful when processing unsolicited e-mail that seeks to draw attention to adult-oriented Web sites. · Knowledge of when it is appropriate to provide personal informa- tion online is increasingly important. Imparting such knowledge involves teaching children about what information is private as well as their right and responsibility to protect that kind of private information from others. For example, if one is doing registration online for classes at one's school, it is perfectly appropriate to provide personal information such as name, address, and the like. But for a teenager to provide such information to a stranger in a chat room is far less wise, and children of all ages would be well advised to refrain from giving out such information without explicit parental permission. · Knowledge of how one might recognize unsolicited commercial e-mail (spam) without opening it would enable children and youth to delete much of it and thereby reduce their potential exposure to inappro- priate material.20 Knowledge of how to behave on the Internet so as to reduce vulnerability to spam would reduce the volume entering their mailboxes. Note that the introduction of any particular lesson in ISE should be tied to a sense of the child's developmental level. For example, being able to identify impending access to inappropriate material is a helpful skill when a child starts to use the Internet without active and continuous adult parental supervision. But whether this skill is helpful or should be introduced prior to this point is less clear. 20For example, one can often identify spam on the basis of the subject line and the pur- ported sender of the mail. (An e-mail from hotsexybabe~example.com with the subject line "best porn on the Net" is highly likely to be spam containing links to adult-oriented, sexu- ally explicit material.) Such e-mail can be easily deleted without being read, and an in- formed user who chooses to read the e-mail is reading sexually explicit material more or less voluntarily. On the other hand, some spam senders anticipate such behavior on the part of the user by forging sender addresses (the mail appears to be from support~example. com and use misleading subject lines (e.g., "about your e-mail program". Spam from such parties cannot be identified as sexually explicit in nature, and a user who reads such mail will be exposed to its content involuntarily.
244 YOUTH, PORNOGRAPHY, AND THE INTERNET In some ways, non-school programs are well suited for ISE (Box 10.6 provides one example). For example, a number of Girl Scout merit badges related to computers and the Internet could easily and naturally accom- modate a requirement for Internet safety. After-school or summer pro- grams, in which computer usage is likely to be less structured (and thus have more potential for students getting into Internet trouble), are a good venue in which to learn and exercise ISE skills in a supervised environ- ment. Religious education programs, which already deal with ethics, can include some Internet safety instruction as well. As discussed in Section 7.1, parents are often far less knowledgeable about technology than are their children. Similarly, teachers especially those at the high school level often know less about the Internet than their students.21 Because many elements of good ISE depend on some technical knowledge (though framed in an appropriate context), effective ISE depends on these adults obtaining the necessary skills themselves. Workshops for parents, pre-service professional education in teachers' colleges and library schools, and in-service programs for professionally active teachers and students all have a role in imparting such skills to adults. Finally, a number of interactive games and programs seek to teach trict. 2lSchofield and Davidson, 2002, Bringing the Internet to School: Lessons from an Urban Dis-
SOCIAL AND EDUCATIONAL STRATEGIES 245 children Internet safety and responsible Web use. These include Net- Smartz,22 SurfSwell Island,23 and MISSING.24 See Box 10.4 for some ideas on promoting Bernet safety education. 10.8.2 Information and Media Literacy Information literacy refers to a set of abilities that enables people to "recognize when information is needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate, and use effectively the needed information."25 An information- literate individual is able to determine the information needed, find the needed information effectively and efficiently, evaluate the information received, and assess its sources critically; incorporate selected informa- tion into his or her knowledge base; use information effectively to accom- plish a specific purpose; understand the economic, legal, and social issues surrounding the use of information; and access and use information ethi- cally and legally.26 Media literacy, a newer term, expands on information literacy in two primary ways.27 First, media literacy extends to information presented in all forms of media, not just print. Information literacy was never specifi- cally restricted to print, but in practice it is often understood in that pri- mary context. Second, and more importantly, media literacy includes the ability to produce and communicate information for the benefit of others. Also, some analysts believe that media education is focused on informa- tion conveyed by and through the mass media, such as newspapers, tele- 22See <http://www.netsmartz.org>. NetSmartz was developed by the NCMEC. 23 See <http: / /disney.go.com/family/surfswell2001 /index.html>. SurfSwell Island was developed by the Disney Corporation. 24See <http: / /www.livewwwires.com/index2.htm>. MISSING was developed by Live- WWWires, a Canadian organization that seeks to promote Internet safety among youth. 25American Library Association. 1989. Presidential Committee on Information Literacy. Final Report. American Library Association, Chicago. Available online at <http://www.ala.org/acrl/ nili/ilitlst.html>. 26This set of abilities is taken with a few modifications from <http://www.ala.org/acrl/ ilintro.html#ildef>. 27More information on media literacy can be found from the following sources, from which parts of the discussion in this paragraph are derived: · <http: / /www.ci.appstate.edu/programs/edmedia/medialit/article.html#What is Media Literacy>. · <http://interact.uoregon.edu/MediaLit/FA/MLArticleFolder/defharvard.html>. · <http://interact.uoregon.edu/MediaLit/FA/MLArticleFolder/defresponse.html>. · David Considine. 1994. Telemedium: The Journal for Media Literacy 41~2) (Strategies for Media Literacy Inc. and the National Telemedia Council, Madison, Wish..
246 YOUTH, PORNOGRAPHY, AND THE INTERNET vision programs, and the like.28 Others add to the definition an under- standing of the role that audiences play in creating meaning from the information found in media content.29 The need for information and media literacy was raised by most of the teachers and librarians with whom the committee spoke. In general, they saw young people their students as being far too uncritical in their acceptance of information found on the Internet, and they felt that it is important for students to develop the skills usually associated with information and media literacy especially with respect to skills related to critical evaluation.30 In some cases, they regarded the harm that could come to students from uncritical acceptance of information on the Internet as much more detrimental than anything they might see in the way of sexually explicit images hate and racist sites (e.g., featuring Holocaust denial) and sites promoting cults were often mentioned. (Of course, all of these teachers were working in a filtered Internet environment, and this assessment might have been different if filters had not been present.) Information and media literacy offers a set of cognitive skills that can protect against misleading information or a disturbing image by teaching young people how to recognize underlying messages, criticize them, and develop pro- ductive counternarratives. Skills related to the critical evaluation of information are not explic- itly related to reducing the exposure of youth to inappropriate sexually explicit material on the Internet. After all, if the concern is that young people are viewing graphic sexual images, one does not need particularly sharp skills to determine if a picture is truly sexually explicit. By con- trast, it is often necessary to pay close attention to the content of other kinds of Web sites in order to determine the meaning of the information contained therein. (Thus, it is often easier to make a determination that something may be sexually explicit, compared to a determination that it is inappropriate in some other way sexual images can be identified at a glance, whereas racist or hate text must be read.) 28Barry Duncan et al. 1989. Media Literacy Resource Guide. Ontario Ministry of Education, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. 29Rick Shepherd. 1993. "Why Teach Media Literacy," Teach Magazine, Oct./Nov. (Quad- rant Educational Media Services). 30Whether these teachers and librarians actually spent the time in class to teach informa- tion and media literacy in anything but the most cursory fashion is a different matter. Indeed, many teachers ignore such matters because they are not seen as part of the disci- pline they are teaching. Nevertheless, the comments of these teachers and librarians indi- cated at least an awareness of the need for information and media literacy.
SOCIAL AND EDUCATIONAL STRATEGIES 247 Though the skills of critical evaluation tend to be more useful in helping youth to deal with other types of material that may be inappro- priate, once an exposure to sexually explicit images has occurred, critical evaluation is still relevant. For example, the sexually explicit images found on adult-oriented Web sites generally do not provide "safer sex" messages. A good understanding of the role that sexual imagery plays in modern media could provide occasion for useful reflection. Critical evalu- ation thus provides skills that youth can use to help deal constructively with exposure to inappropriate material. Skills related to finding information are perhaps more relevant to the task of reducing exposure to sexually explicit material. For example, performing an effective Web search that is, one that retrieves relevant information and minimizes the amount of undesired information re- quires 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. Such skills can help to reduce the likelihood that a searcher might come across inappropriate material inadvertently. For example, if a search engine returned a link to a Web site that the searcher had learned to recognize would likely contain adult- oriented sexually explicit material rather than information on reproduc- tion or sexually transmitted diseases, he or she could simply refrain from accessing that site. Programs in media literacy generally focus on understanding media messages in context. That is, the "face" content of a media message is only one aspect of it. A media-literate individual understands how to evaluate the truthfulness and reliability of a media message, and also knows to ask about the motivations and intent of the party or parties responsible for distributing that message. (Some such literacy is pro- vided in consumer education programs and materials, such as those pro- vided by Consumer Reports.) The significance of such literacy in the context of evaluating content found on the World Wide Web is obvious, where a good deal of Web content is not reliable or accurate by any standard. But media literacy also has relevance to an adolescent who may be exposed to inappropriate sexually explicit materials, either deliberately or inadvertently. Media lit- eracy can help a young person ask questions such as: · Why are these pictures being shown to me? · Is what I am seeing a true and realistic image of what sex is like? · Why are other people drawn to these images? · What important things are not being shown in these images?
248 YOUTH, PORNOGRAPHY, AND THE INTERNET · What are the circumstances that led the individuals being depicted into their being photographed? · Could an adult help me better understand what I'm seeing? In short, media literacy can help to promote a more detached, more evaluative, and more reflective view of media, messages, and one's own self. By doing so, it may well strengthen impulse control and empathy, and help lead one to question one's own behavior and is likely to reduce the exposure resulting from impulsive behavior. Information and media literacy also addresses the responsible place- ment of information on the Internet, for example on Web sites and in e- mail. Thus, the creation of information must be undertaken in a respon- sible manner that communicates what the creator intends. Responsibility might, for example, include the notion that the posting of composite pho- tographs (e.g., face of a classmate pasted onto a naked body without permission) constitutes unethical and inappropriate behavior. Repeated e-mails to a party (e.g., one person asking another for a date) can be regarded as harassment if the subject of the e-mails has requested a cessa- tion of such e-mails. The research base for understanding the effectiveness of information and media literacy training and education is thin, but two experimental studies provide evidence that suggests beneficial effects in the short run. One study provided some information and media literacy instruction to elementary school children viewing violent cartoons.31 This instruction asked them to think about the feelings of the victim of violence through- out the episode and those who received such instruction did not experi- ence a desensitizing change in attitude toward violence nor did they find the cartoon to be as funny as those not receiving such instruction. An- other study focused on girls in their early teens, instructing them in how to think critically about media messages regarding how women should think about romance, love, and sexuality.32 They responded by criticizing the media because they felt the media encouraged them to focus too much on romance and trying to attract men. If such studies can be generalized, helping youth to understand how and whv sexually explicit adult-ori- .J .J 1 31A.I. Nathanson and J. Cantor. 2000. "Reducing the Aggression-promoting Effect of Violent Cartoons by Increasing Children's Fictional Involvement with the Victim," Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media 44: 125-142. 32Sarah Keller, "How Do Early Adolescent Girls Use Media to Shape Their Romantic Identities?" unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, 2000. Some of the results from this dissertation can be found in National Research Council and Institute of Medicine, 2001, Nontechnical Strategies to Reduce Children's Exposure to Inap- propriate Material on the Internet: Summary of a Workshop.
SOCIAL AND EDUCATIONAL STRATEGIES 249 ented materials are produced and consumed may be of some assistance in helping to "inoculate" these youth to some of the effects of such materials. As with much education, information and media literacy is likely pursued best in a one-on-one context. By talking to a student searching for information on a particular topic, adults can teach him or her effective search strategies for such information. Once a number of sources are found, talking to the student about how to evaluate those sources can help to develop critical thinking skills. Of course, one-on-one interaction is also labor-intensive, and a one-on-one format is less feasible in situa- tions in which many students must be served. In such situations, group and in-class instruction can also be helpful. For application in a mass education environment, a variety of schools have adopted educational standards that address certain information and media literacy skills. For example, the state of Wisconsin has adopted learning standards that call for fourth graders to be able to use Web sites that have been preselected and bookmarked by the teacher, eighth grad- ers to know effective search strategies, and twelfth graders to be able to evaluate Internet content for validity and reliability as well as to assess the search engines for effectiveness and the way in which they return information.33 10.8.3 Collateral Issues Internet safety education and information and media literacy can be regarded as elements of a comprehensive approach to education in which the use of technology is fully integrated with pedagogical goals. A1- though a full discussion of education that is well integrated with technol- ogy is beyond the scope of this report, the following points are worth consideration: · Internet safety is only one dimension of productive and appropri- ate use of the Internet. It is also a dimension of appropriate use that young people learn not to use the Internet for socially detrimental and/or illegal purposes. For example, harassment conducted online is no less serious than harassment conducted offline. The use of a computer to penetrate another computer, even if that second computer has weak se- curity, is analogous to walking into someone else's house without per- mission, even if the door is unlocked. In short, responsibility is also an important dimension of one's Internet use. . . ~ ~ . 33see <http://www.dpi.state.wi.us/dpi/standards/pdf/infOtech.pdf>.
250 YOUTH, PORNOGRAPHY, AND THE INTERNET · Professional development for educators using the Internet is im- portant and must go beyond the mere mechanics of how to use a search engine and how to send e-mail. That is, educators must learn how the Internet can support pedagogical objectives as well as how to teach In- ternet safety.34 Both pre-service and in-service teacher training is thus called for. · Ethical and legal behavior on the Internet and in using technology is a part of the technology education standards developed by the Interna- tional Society for Technology in Education for students, teachers, and administrators.35 To the extent that technology education becomes an important part of K-12 education, issues related to ethical and legal be- havior will have to be addressed. · To integrate technology into schools, an adequate technology in- frastructure is necessary. For a variety of reasons, today's information technology is not well adapted to the needs of K-12 education. Develop- ing a generation of information technology adapted for the special needs of schools is the focus of a National Research Council project in progress as this book goes to press.36 10.9 COMPELLING AND SAFE CONTENT In various site visits, teachers reported to the committee that their most effective strategy for dissuading students from engaging in inappropriate activities on the Internet was to keep students "on task" focused on activi- ties relevant to the educational task at hand. Often, teachers prepared for a class by compiling a list of helpful Web sites appropriate for that class. Such a list, combined with restrictions on the amount of time students were allowed to use school Internet facilities, resulted in "students not having time to get into trouble," according to these teachers. A generalization of this strategy would call for the creation of Internet content that is compelling and educational for young people, so compel- ling that they are less inclined to spend their time searching for inappro- priate material or engaging in inappropriate or unsafe activities. Material that is productive, stimulating, and developmentally beneficial could in- clude more Web sites devoted to sexual health and education so that 34For example, the CyberSmart! program is a professionally developed curriculum for K- 8 students and supports teachers in educational efforts to introduce responsible and effec- tive Internet use. For more information see <http://www.cybersmartcurriculum.org>. 35see <http: / /www.iste.org>. 36see <http://www7.nationalacademies.org/ILIT/> for information on the NRC project on improving learning with information technology.
SOCIAL AND EDUCATIONAL STRATEGIES 251 curious adolescents could obtain reliable information on sexuality rather than, or at least before, finding sexually explicit material that lacks infor- mation or that depicts unprotected sex or other unsafe sexual practices. An analogy can be drawn to the development of high-quality televi- sion programming for children. An example of commercially supported programming in this domain is Nickir, a component of the Nickelodeon network's programming. NickJr is supported by advertising revenues and is popular among its target audience,37 suggesting that high-quality television programs can be of interest and of educational value to some children, that associated Web sites that support these messages may be equally valuable for their development, and that this kind of program- ming can be viable in the commercial marketplace. Note also that the Nickir Web site also has quality software, derived from its TV program- ming, that is oriented toward preschool-aged children. On the other hand, commercial sources of content depend on a finan- cial base that relies almost exclusively on ratings, which implies that their content must be oriented toward mass markets (for example, their content is more commonly "action-oriented" with more violent material that more easily draws an audience, and cannot economically be tailored to niche markets). Further, because the production and airing of commercial ma- terial are often subsidized by getting children to buy products, it is gener- ally less expensive to develop child-oriented commercial material; chil- dren also like a flow back and forth between television and online content, giving commercial content a further appeal. Major commercial sources have the resources to experiment with different approaches to their online offerings, an important characteristic in a new environment in which suc- cessful formulas for engaging children with healthy Web content are largely unknown. From their physical-world presence, they also have brand recognition (e.g., Disney, Nickelodeon, and Sesame Street) that enables many parents to trust the content they provide. Because non-commercial sources do not rely on mass markets for financial viability, they can execute more readily on their mandate to educate. For example, the content of non-commercial programming can be tailored more finely to smaller age-appropriate ranges, or to topics and approaches that are more highly specialized. While non-commercial pro- gramming does not in general have the mass market appeal of much commercial programming, the availability of non-commercial program- ming would tap into the needs of a number of smaller markets, poten- tially meeting demand that is not manifested in a commercial environ- 37Sandra Calvert et aL 2001. '~Children~s Online Reports About Educational and Infor- mational Television Programs,,, Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology 22~1~: 103-117.
252 YOUTH, PORNOGRAPHY, AND THE INTERNET meet. The committee also believes that the presence of non-commercial sources such as PBS changes the environment for commercial providers by creating greater incentives for commercial providers to do more inter- esting and creative programming and raising the standard of quality. (This change in the environment is at least as important as the quality programming for which it is directly responsible.) Box 10.7 describes some possible non-commercial content developers. In the Internet arena, Yahooligans is a Yahoo-sponsored "kids area" with sections on sports, news, jokes, games, chat, bulletin board postings, and online special-interest clubs. It also provides resources for education (oriented toward school work), sports, computers, and entertainment, as well as information for parents, teachers, and children for Internet safety. The theory is that young people would choose to go to these sites and portals voluntarily, which in turn would keep them away from adult material. The approach of creating content that specifically appeals to children has a number of benefits. One major appeal is that the evaluation of educational Web sites is more feasible than trying to evaluate online con- tent as a whole. Because the volume of material to be evaluated is so much smaller, considerable effort (hours rather than seconds) can be expended
SOCIAL AND EDUCATIONAL STRATEGIES 253 to produce an evaluation that is thorough, rigorous, 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.38 In addition, the availability of good Web sites that attract the attention and interest of young people relieves to some extent the burden on parents to provide direction. These educational Web sites could also include infor- mation on online safety as well as other educational content. Good content can also draw on a scientific understanding of the de- velopmental needs and milestones of children in cognitive, social, emo- tional, and moral dimensions. For example, based on such research, schools in Wisconsin have developed Internet-related educational objec- tives that students must meet by the end of certain years and that teach skills such as effective searching and how to evaluate online content for truthfulness and validity. It appears to be quite difficult, however, to find business models that can independently support the development of such content for the Inter- net. One of the ironies of the Internet is that adult entertainment is one of the very few businesses that have been able to make a profit on the Inter- net, while markets for high-quality Internet content for children languish. Experience in the wake of the dot-coin meltdown illustrates that building any Internet-based business is difficult, but it appears to be especially difficult to create good offerings for children. Some of the key challenges include: · Limited bandwidth. Even et broadband speeds, most children find content coming over the Internet frustrating. (Adults do as well.) Video or animation, especially over a dial-up connection, can be quite jerky, making it virtually unmatchable by many children. Furthermore, other media such as TV, video games, and PC-based software offer content that tends to be much more matchable, and the instant response that these other media offer places Internet content at a significant disadvantage. Content can be designed to work well over the Internet. Nevertheless, it is likely that content creators will be making creative sacrifices in order to 38In the committee's December 2000 workshop, Sarah Keller described the evaluation process of the ASHA Web site, <www.iwannaknow.org>, a project in which she is cur- rently involved. This process began with a content analysis that compares the information available on the site to the recommendations established by the Sexual Information and Education Council, SIECUS, a recognized authority on sex education. The analysis was used to create an online survey to measure the site's impact on teen knowledge, attitudes, and intended behaviors. The site was evaluated using the American Library Association's recommendations on navigability, accuracy, authority, currency, and objectivity (see <www. ala. org / internettoolkit>~.
254 YOUTH, PORNOGRAPHY, AND THE INTERNET obtain viewability placing such content at a disadvantage with respect to content carried in other media. · Privacy concerns. Online businesses that are directed at children must comply with a variety of regulations emanating from the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). While such regulations have benefits, COPPA has also imposed costs on such businesses that they did not previously incur,39 and it is likely that the added costs of complying with COPPA have increased the operating burden felt by some develop- ers of material for younger children and resulted in a smaller volume of such material. · Safety concerns. The newness of the Internet and the media public- ity regarding untoward Internet experiences (e.g., abductions resulting from Internet-enabled interactions) have made many parents fearful of allowing their younger children on the Internet. · Financing. Even in the high-flying days of venture capital, it was hard to develop plausible business models for how an Internet service oriented toward children would eventually be profitable. Advertisers are often uninterested in targeting children online, and Web sites that offer traffic that consists mostly of children are not in high demand. Finally, creating compelling and safe content de nova is not the only way to assemble collections of such material. Portals and Web sites that lead to developmentally appropriate, educational, and enjoyable material on a broad range of appealing topics (not just sex and sex education) would help to keep young people away from inappropriate sexually ex- plicit material (as well as other types of inappropriate material) by pro- viding a venue that children preferred. Lists of appropriate Web sites suitable for classroom or in-home use are a "poor-man's" analog to these kinds of portal teachers and/or parents can create lists of interesting and appropriate Web sites for easy browser access by bookmarking them, and even a list of such sites on paper would be helpful in many circum- stances. Also, school districts and libraries are creating portals to educa- tionally oriented Web sites to help students do their work. 10.10 PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENTS AND MEDIA CAMPAIGNS Because many adults do not know much about the need for Internet safety, or about the nature and extent of dangers on the Internet, they 39For example, COPPA requires a parent to send a note through the postal service or to fax a form to document parental permission for answering questions that ask for personal information, both of which are time-consuming, inefficient, and costly to process.
SOCIAL AND EDUCATIONAL STRATEGIES 255 often do not know what they do not know. Thus, they can be complacent and do nothing about protecting their children on the Internet, or they can exaggerate the dangers, believing from media scare stories that "pornog- raphy" and sexual predators on the Internet are as ubiquitous as commer- cials on television or radio. By themselves, public service announcements (PSAs) and media cam- paigns cannot provide comprehensive education about complex topics. However, they are ideal for relatively simple messages. For example, the late 1980s saw a major public awareness campaign offering the message, "It's ten o'clock. Do you know where your kids are?" A similar campaign today for Internet safety might offer a message like, "What did your kids do online today?," or "You, too, can learn about protecting your kids on the Internet!" or "Would you let a stranger in your child's bedroom?" to encourage the placement of computers in public parts of the home. Since the mid 1990s, a number of concerned companies in the Internet publishing industry have sought to demonstrate their interest in educat- ing the public at large about the dangers that the Internet can present to children. These industry-sponsored self-policing programs include Amer- icaLinksUp, which ran roughly from December 1997 to October 1998, and GetNetWise, which started in the spring of 1999 and still exists today. AmericaLinksUp was spawned by the Internet Online Summit: Focus on Children held in Washington, D.C., in December 1997. The conference consisted of a day of Clinton Administration, congressional, and Internet industry leaders speaking to the importance of establishing a public-pri- vate partnership to protect the public interest and obviate the need for introducing legislation to regulate the Internet. One of the outcomes was AmericaLinksUp, which was funded primarily by several major media companies, including AOL, Time Warner, and the Walt Disney Com- pany, to demonstrate corporate commitment to raising public awareness about the importance of parents monitoring their children's activities on the Web and of children being aware of the dangers that can be encoun- tered when surfing the Web. AmericaLinksUp created television and radio PSA spots that were designed to target parents and children as separate demographic groups. ABC Television Network, ABC Radio Net- work, Turner Broadcasting System, and Lifetime Television all provided air time pro bono during August and September of 1998 to broadcast these PSAs. Despite the fact that the PSAs were very emotionally evoca- tive, AmericaLinksUp most likely had minimal impact due to the limited nature of any media campaign that has virtually no media budget. Operated under the auspices of the non-profit Internet Education Foundation, GetNetWise was in many ways the successor to America- LinksUp, and is supported by a wide range of Internet-related corpora- tions and public service organizations. GetNetWise had a larger agenda than simply promulgating children's safety on the Internet; it extended to
256 YOUTH, PORNOGRAPHY, AND THE INTERNET promoting how families could enjoy the Internet together, as well. Get- NetWise launched a major Web site designed to be the focal point on the Web for all Internet public interest information. GetNetWise.org still is in operation today, although the initial publicity campaign surrounding its launch in mid-l999 has diminished, as has awareness of the initiative. Overall, despite the significant amount of energy and resources ex- pended to produce the PSAs for AmericaLinksUp and to launch the Web site and public relations campaign for GetNetWise, there is little evidence that either of these industry initiatives has had a major impact on dimin- ishing the safety problems presented by the Internet for children. If any conclusion can be drawn from the programs, it is that, while they do offer value (although that is difficult to measure) by raising people's aware- ness, it is difficult to sustain interest among industry participants over any extended period of time. For such campaigns to be most effective, companies must believe it is in their commercial interest to finance them (i.e., there must be a threat of some harm, such as potential governmental regulation or loss of revenues, or some promise of benefit, such as greater public awareness of their concerns for the welfare of children). To truly make a difference, public awareness campaigns must be funded on an ongoing basis and be part of a multifaceted umbrella program that makes Internet safety the responsibility of all key stakeholders in promoting children's safety on the Internet. Another possibility is that strategies, along the lines of current cam- paigns to discourage drug and tobacco use among children, could be designed to discourage children from seeking out sexually explicit mate- rials. Such strategies are likely to be controversial, in the sense that they would call public attention to sexually explicit materials. Moreover, most of the literature suggests that health communication campaigns, such as anti-smoking and anti-drug media campaigns, are least effective when they are not conducted in concert and coordination with appropriate com- munity-based supports.40 10.11 FINDINGS AND OBSERVATIONS ABOUT SOCIAL AND EDUCATIONAL STRATEGIES 1. Social and educational strategies directly address the nurturing of character and the development of responsible choice. Because such strat- egies locate control in the hands of the youth targeted children mav make 40Thomas E. Backer and Everett M. Rogers, eds. 1993. Organizational Aspects of Health Communication Campaigns: What Works?, Sage, Newbury Park, Calif.
SOCIAL AND EDUCATIONAL STRATEGIES 257 mistakes as they learn to internalize the object of these lessons. But ex- plaining why certain actions were mistaken will help children to learn the lessons that parents and other adults hope that they will learn. 2. Though education is difficult and time-consuming, many aspects of Internet safety education have been successful in the past several years. While it is true that Internet safety education, acceptable use policies, and even parental guidance and counseling are unlikely to change the desire of many adolescent boys to seek out sexually explicit materials, parents are more aware of some of the other dangers (such as meeting strangers face-to-face) and know more about how to protect their kids then ever before. (This is true even though more needs to be done in this area.) Children are better educated about how to sense whether the person on the other end of an instant message is "for real." Many of them have developed strategies for coping, and children with such strategies in- creasingly understand the rules of the game better than many parents. Little of this was true 5 years ago. 3. Social and educational strategies are generally not inexpensive, and they require tending and implementation. Adults must be taught to teach children how to make good choices in this area. They must be willing to engage in sometimes-difficult conversations. And, social and educational strategies do not provide a quick fix with a high degree of immediate protection. Nevertheless, they are the only approach through which ethics of responsible behavior can be cultivated and ways of cop- ing with inappropriate material and experiences taught. 4. Social and educational strategies have relevance and applicability far beyond the limited question of "protecting kids from porn on the Internet." For example, social and educational strategies are relevant to teaching children to: · Think critically about all kinds of media messages, including those associated with hate, racism, senseless violence, and so on; · Conduct effective Internet searches for information and navigate with confidence; · Evaluate the credibility and motivation of the sources of the mes- sages that they receive; · Better recognize dangerous situations on the Internet; · Make ethical and responsible choices about Internet behavior- and about non-Internet behavior as well; and · Cope better with exposure to upsetting and disturbing experiences and material found on the Internet.