Why is the Generation Gap Important?
The Internet has dramatically changed the world we live in. The Internet has also created an entire new world, a global community, in which anyone who logs on can pose as anyone or do just about anything they desire. Internet use has grown exponentially since the late 1990s, and it has essentially defined a new way of sharing information and interacting with others throughout the world.
Students today will be global citizens for the rest of their lives. Students view the Internet in a much different way than adults. However, the Internet provides a medium that allows students to believe that the communications they have online are with respective peers, when in many instances the person on the other end is really an adult. Even though students may be aware of the dangers inherent in communicating online, they continue to make decisions about engaging in online behaviors as if these were one-time situations.
Parents provide their children with a computer and Internet access. Many have the perception that the computer is a tool that helps make their kids smarter, helps them keep in touch with their friends, and keeps them off the streets and out of trouble. While there is no disputing the advantages this technology affords, the misconception that nothing harmful can happen from using the Internet is still prevalent despite recent cases of child abduction, online identity theft, and lawsuits from downloading of music, movies, and other types of intellectual property.
Today’s youth have grown up with the Internet as an integral part of society, and many are much more Internet savvy than their parents. A 2006-07 National Assessment Center (NAC) study indicates that 42% of students surveyed felt that their parents’ Internet skills were worse than their own. Likewise, 61% of parents agree, responding that their children were more proficient online than they are.
Results of these recent studies document notable disparities between parents and young people in their computer knowledge and proficiency. This difference is further heightened when noting that young children and teens are online constantly. According to National Center for Education statistics, 90% of American students age 5-17, or 50 million kids and teens, use the Internet. i-SAFE’s National Assessment Center (NAC) statistics from the 2006 – 07 school year show that nearly half (44%) of students in grades 3-12 spent at least one hour a week on the Internet. As you might expect, Internet usage increases among older students. Just over one in twenty (6%) of students in 3rd-4th grades spent more than 15 hours a week online; that number goes up to 8% of 5th-8th graders, and a whopping 13% of high school students report spending more than 15 hours a week online.
Unfortunately, this proliferation of Internet use among kids and teens, constituting a large and highly influential segment of the American population, has exposed a very dark side of the World Wide Web. The anonymity of the Internet and ease in creating different identities have opened up an entire new avenue for online predators, identity thieves, hackers, and other devious individuals. Since kids and teens are typically unaware of the tricks and techniques that these predators use to deceive their victims, and since most use the Internet as an everyday part of their lives, young people are at risk to a higher degree than other Internet users.
Why is the Generation Gap Important? (You are Here)
Reprinted with the permission of i-SAFE Inc. © 1998=2008 i-Safe Inc. All Rights Reserved.
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