line resources that can be used for all
kinds of research. At the same time,
the Internet is filled with hate pages,
Web sites promoting anorexia, pages
used by illegal organizations to collect funds by passing themselves off
as charitable organizations, and more.
All of these Web sites are there, ready
to be found by just making a few
clicks, and many of them are being
actively visited by minors. Of course
it should be a priority for both parents
and teachers to teach Internet safety
to kids, and it is fairly obvious that
being able to determine what to look
at should be a skill we should seek
to develop in our kids. But if we take
into account the potential for harm
that this type of information has, we
should definitely start thinking about
Just how hurtful or dangerous can
this information be? According to
journalist Anastasia Goodstein, the
... if a particular piece of information has been proven to be
detrimental to the health of minors, or can, by any means, be
considered to place kids’ integrity at risk, it should be treated at
least in the same way as alcohol and pornography.
last attempt by experts to count pro- of information has been proven to be
anorexia sites was done five years ago, detrimental to the health of minors, or
and at that point they counted 500. It can, by any means, be considered to
is fairly obvious we should expect that place kids’ integrity at risk, it should
number to have increased by now. Be- be treated at least in the same way
sides that, Goodstein says that a study as alcohol and pornography. When
conducted by Stanford University and someone is going to buy alcohol, we
the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital expect the clerk to ask the person for
found that 40% of eating-disorder pa- an ID, and to check that ID. If the
tients visit these types of sites, and that person fails to produce one, we expect
these sites make it harder for them to alcohol to be “filtered,” made unavail-recover. Should something that has able to the customer. Why is it then,
been proven to be affecting minors in that we allow all sorts of content to be
a negative way be so freely available freely available to all viewers?
for all kinds of viewers?
It is clear that blocking or filtering
sites based on political, religious, or
racial grounds should definitely not
be considered. But if a particular piece
Juan Camilo Rozo Osuna is an educational technology consultant from Bogota, Colombia. He is
head of the Tecnología con Valores (Technology
with Values) foundation and works as a speaker
for the Columbian non-profit Red Papaz.
connections with friends and experts
around the world.
Therefore, we do not need guidelines for filtering student access to
materials. Instead, we need a nationwide educational policy that calls for
the preparation of teaching professionals who understand the intricacies
and responsibilities of being a digital
citizen and their roles in leading our
students to become good digital citizens. We must also call for curricular
reform that teaches students how to
“advocate and practice safe, legal, and
responsible use of information and
technology,” a call that is being made
through the NETS•S.
To prepare our students to thrive in
a digital world, we must teach them
how to use information in a safe way.
The basic foundation of the NETS•S
and NETS•T provide a framework for
these abilities. We must teach students
what to do when they find material
that is questionable or objectionable.
... given the constantly expanding Internet, it makes much more
sense to teach them how to intelligently use these resources
themselves than to try and block students from access.
We know that we impact only a small
part of our students’ online lives and,
given the constantly expanding Internet, it makes much more sense to
teach them how to intelligently use
these resources themselves than to try
and block students from access.
However, we must be practical in
implementing such a change. We
must acknowledge that teachers often
do not have an understanding of the
potential for danger and how to safely
navigate it. Therefore, we must create
initial teacher preparation and professional development that provides
instruction in how to model safe use
of the Internet. We must also work
with parents to help them locate resources to expand these lessons to the
home. Finally, we need to develop a
scaffolded approach that teaches students how to be good digital citizens;
starting with protected environments
in the early grades and then develop
a phased approach in which students
increasingly demonstrate that they
understand how to keep themselves
safe in this rich, but potentially dangerous environment. By providing our
students with the necessary 21st
-century skills to be good digital citizens,
we give students the skills to protect
themselves far beyond the closeted
walls of our schools.
Christopher Johnson, PhD, is adjunct faculty at
the University of Arizona and is the President of
the 21st Century Learning Group. He currently
serves as the president of the Arizona Technology
in Education Alliance (Az TEA), an ISTE Affiliate.