Education Problems and the Internet

The internet can be a wonderful educational tool for our students, but it also presents a whole host of threats and problems that must be taken into consideration.

Today’s youngsters are quick to assimilate the skills needed to become proficient on the internet, but they lack the experience to always know when to be on guard against sexual predators, or others who would take advantage of their openness. Of course another problem with unsupervised access to the internet can result in students who don’t do assignments, or who don’t get enough sleep to function effectively in school.

But there is help and hope on the horizon.

MySpace, the largest social networking web site, has concluded an agreement with the Attorney Generals of every state but Texas, to take steps that may protect children and teens who frequent the site. In the wake of the widely-publicized news about a young teen’s suicide over abuse of the site, MySpace has agreed to tighten controls and to actively take steps to protect children from predators.

Back in October 2007, Facebook started the ball rolling when it completed a voluntary agreement with New York’s Attorney General to accept responsibility for protecting users. The MySpace agreement goes further and is more detailed than the Facebook agreement. Whereas Facebook promised to respond more speedily to complaints about sexual messages and to use stronger language to warn it’s users about potential hazards, the MySpace agreement does all of that and more.

MySpace has agreed to form a task force, with input from online sites and child protection groups, to develop ways to verify ages and identities of it’s users. The site will install safeguards to protect children from predators, including making every site of users under 18 “private”. While several protective measures are, or will be, put in place, nothing is foolproof. The challenge to make the internet safe for children must be ongoing and parents need to monitor their child’s use of the computer. There are no substitutes for caring and vigilant parental guidance.

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