Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Cybertraps for the Young

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By Frederick S. Lane

We teach knife and appliance safety in home economics; we teach gun safety as a prerequisite for a hunting license; auto safety in driver’s education; and the dangers of sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies in sex ed. The Internet’s potential for misuse, whether through a computer or a mobile phone, is at least as profound as a chef’s knife, a Camaro, or a .22, but our efforts to educate children about Internet safety are far more sporadic and less thorough.

Approaching the risks for children on the Internet in a thought-provoking and intellectual manner, this study skillfully integrates contemporary news reports and disturbing legal cases to show how Facebook and other ready-made forums for information exchange are breaking down boundaries of privacy and facilitating a growing number of criminal convictions for cyberbullying, child pornography, hacking, and copyright infringement.

Also included is a discussion of how the widespread use of camera phones, mobile tablets, and social media sites has given rise to a new and dangerous practice among teens: sexting. This reference provides parents with an authoritative lesson in cyberethics and practical instructions for instituting household internet policies, as well as school officials and communities with lessons on how to educate children about the responsible use of emerging mobile technologies.

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