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Education

School Boards Rule, Internet No Longer Dangerous 238

destinyland writes "Good news. The National School Boards Association, which represents 95,000 school board members, just released a report declaring fears of the internet are overblown. In fact, after surveying 1,277 students, "the researchers found exactly one student who reported they'd actually met a stranger from the internet without their parents' permission. (They described this as "0.08 percent of all students.") The report reminds educators that schools initially banned internet use before they'd realized how educational it was. Now instead they're urging schools to include social networks in their curriculum!"
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School Boards Rule, Internet No Longer Dangerous

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  • Sure (Score:5, Insightful)

    by baldass_newbie ( 136609 ) on Wednesday August 08, 2007 @09:39AM (#20155665) Homepage Journal
    Because kids will tell their teachers and the school boards the truth.
    • Re:Sure (Score:4, Funny)

      by mwvdlee ( 775178 ) on Wednesday August 08, 2007 @09:42AM (#20155707) Homepage
      In related news; The researchers originally intended to intervied over 2,000 children, but for unknown reasons 723 children were mysteriously vanished even though logs showed they were accessing their myspace profiles just hours before.
    • Re:Sure (Score:5, Interesting)

      by MontyApollo ( 849862 ) on Wednesday August 08, 2007 @09:51AM (#20155857)
      I heard about a show once that explored this pretty well - kids telling adults what they want to hear.

      I didn't see it, but someone was telling me about it. They interviewed these kids about what they would do if they were to find a gun. They said stuff like they would never touch it and they would immediately tell an adult. They then put the kids in a room without adults and with a see thru mirror and left a gun laying around. Their parents were on the other side of the mirror watching them. Of course, the kids picked up the gun and starting playing it.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by kansas1051 ( 720008 )

        The McMartin preschool criminal trial is a better example than the 20/20 episode you mention. In the McMartin case, hundreds of children told investigators they were abused because the children thought that was what the investigators wanted to hear. Apparently, all the abuse allegations turned out to be false:

        http://www.law.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials /mcmartin/mcmartin.html

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 08, 2007 @09:40AM (#20155671)
    remember kids, the internet might not be dangerous, but overuse of commas can be!
  • Sigh... (Score:2, Funny)

    Heaven forbid our youth finds out that the world isn't nearly as bad a place as our fear-mongering overlords paint it to be. I for one welcome... Ah crap, I'm too afraid to finish...
  • 0.08 percent? (Score:2, Interesting)

    Apparently the chances of being taught good fundamental math is lower than the chance of meeting IRL a freak that you chatted with on the internet.

    Public education -- a series of tubes down the drain.
    • by Dunbal ( 464142 )
      Apparently the chances of being taught good fundamental math is lower than the chance of meeting IRL a freak

            I wouldn't be so sure. There are plenty of sites that can help [purplemath.com] with basic math, if you just look for them. I guess you belong to the "overblown" club, huh?
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by adonoman ( 624929 )
      Well, putting aside statistical issues with sample size and whatnot, 1 / 1277 is indeed 0.00078, or as a percentage: 0.078%. Rounding that to 0.08% hardly seems like bad math.
    • It was written, "Apparently the chances of being taught good fundamental math is lower than the chance of meeting IRL a freak that you chatted with on the internet."

      1 / 1277 = 0.0007830853563038371182458888018794

      Move the decimal over two places for percent display:
      0.07830853563038371182458888018794%

      Round up a little and you have 0.08%, as reported by the article.

      I am curious as to what fundamental math is being quested here.
      • I am curious as to what fundamental math is being quested here.

        Mine apparently.

        Here is what is even more funny: I scored a perfect Math SAT as a Senior.

        Here is what is even more funny: As a Junior I took the test, and paid to have the answers I got wrong explained to me (several weeks after test, mailed to me). I missed two questions.. both were addition problems.
        • I missed two questions.. both were addition problems.

          But...that doesn't add up.
        • Ah, okay. Math errors happen to us here and there.

          This is a very small sampling to making any broad judgements from, but what if this small sample represented the USA? If this study scaled up to an 8 million kids, that would be 6,264.7 kids would have met someone off-line. I pray that the numbers are not truly that bad, otherwise, we have done a poor job of raising our children.
    • It's funny how people bashing the public school system don't understand how percents work themselves.
  • Are social networks (presumably they mean things like myspace, bebo etc) really the most educational resources on the internet that they could think of ? If so future generations are in serious trouble.
    • I could be wrong, but Slashdot is considered a "social network" according to their guidelines. So is wikipedia, along with any other site where a user can post comments.
      • I could be wrong, but Slashdot is considered a "social network" according to their guidelines.

        Ok, now you got me scared too!
    • A local social network can be interesting. I remember the "good ole days" of checking out who was using the VMS VAX machines on campus and read their plans. The network talk/chat program was very nice. You could have a quick chat with people you might never meet on campus otherwise.

      If a school level social network was available, different students could meet and get to know each other in a different context. You are limited to people you could actually meet, not across the country or a continent away.
      • If a school level social network was available, different students could meet and get to know each other in a different context. You are limited to people you could actually meet, not across the country or a continent away.

        This used to be my great argument that Facebook was not evil -- I found it a great (and also not ugly) way to keep up with friends who had gone to college or whom I hadn't seen in a while. Then Facebook added regional networks, and started letting anyone on, and that argument became inv

  • The 3 R's (Score:4, Funny)

    by dgun ( 1056422 ) on Wednesday August 08, 2007 @09:45AM (#20155747) Homepage

    Now instead they're urging schools to include social networks in their curriculum

    OMG mathz rulz. I have mad science skillz, lolz!2!@! check out my blogz. c u guyz at da mall. ;)

  • by faloi ( 738831 ) on Wednesday August 08, 2007 @09:46AM (#20155757)
    That's the surprising new recommendation from the National School Boards Association -- a not-for-profit organization representing 95,000 school board members -- in a new study funded by Microsoft, News Corporation, and Verizon.

    I'm hardly surprised that a study funded by that group would decide the Internet is safe. And less surprised that social networking sites should be used. Perhaps using Myspace from your Vista PC on your Verizon broadband connection isn't so bad!!11
  • by 4solarisinfo ( 941037 ) on Wednesday August 08, 2007 @09:46AM (#20155775)
    Next thing you know, these kids will be poitnlessly commenting on newsgroups and opinion sites instead of worki... Oh Crap, here comes my boss!
  • by lonechicken ( 1046406 ) on Wednesday August 08, 2007 @09:50AM (#20155845)
    "...76% of parents expect social networking will improve their children's reading and writing skills..."

    The internet improving the writing skills of children? That's unpossible!
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by tehcyder ( 746570 )

      "...76% of parents expect social networking will improve their children's reading and writing skills..."
      "...76% of parents expect social networking will utterly destroy any remnant of their children's reading and writing skills..."

      Fixed.

  • .08%? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by noSignal ( 997337 )
    It may be early, and I haven't had coffee yet, but wouldn't 1/1277 be more like .0008%? Methinks the public school system has bigger problems to deal with than internet access...
  • Good news?? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ukpyr ( 53793 ) on Wednesday August 08, 2007 @09:53AM (#20155893)
    "yet only 3% of students say they've ever given out their email addresses, instant messaging screen names or other personal information to strangers." - TFA

    I would think this is a fundamentally flawed survey. What student hasn't heard the message that giving out personal information is considered risky?? I remember getting surveys in school that involved some rule or restriction that was unpopular and organizing group responses in the hope of getting those restrictions lessened.

    Why on earth would you need to teach about social networks in school? Isn't it easy enough to pick up outside of school? Their success would indicate that to be true.

    "84% of school districts have rules against online chatting in school" - TFA - OH NOES, my freedom of speech!!!!!!! Seriously maybe you should be learning where Iraq is on a world map instead of talking about your latest crush in IM.

    This is why I pay for private school. Freaking tax dollars going to rubbish like this
    • by Maximum Prophet ( 716608 ) on Wednesday August 08, 2007 @10:25AM (#20156331)
      Why on earth would you need to teach about sex in school? Isn't it easy enough to pick up outside of school? It's success would indicate that to be true.

      Of course I don't expect the teachers to know anything about social networking, just like in High School I suspected that the teachers were pretty clueless about sex as well.
    • What student hasn't heard the message that giving out personal information is considered risky?? I remember getting surveys in school that involved some rule or restriction that was unpopular and organizing group responses in the hope of getting those restrictions lessened.

      Ummm... I gave Slashdot my email address. Should I be concerned now?
  • by phoenixwade ( 997892 ) on Wednesday August 08, 2007 @09:53AM (#20155905)
    Internet No Longer Dangerous != Fears overblown

    And

    Internet != Social Networking

    Geez, you'd think that a user on /. would get that.. I'm sure there is some value in social networking sites for educational use, even though nothing comes to mind at the moment. But, the summation is wrong, the internet IS dangerous. I'm sure that, pulling stats out of my butt notwithstanding, fear of social networking sites IS overblown, but that does not mean the danger isn't there.

    When do I get to mod an Article "Stupid Summation"?

    • by ukpyr ( 53793 )
      Your memo was misaddressed, apologies! Web 2.0 is all about social networking. Therefore, the entire content base of the Internet/Web (they are the same) has been supplanted with social networking sites.

      All that unsafe stuff was thrown out.

      XoXo - The Internet/Web
    • I think the reality of the situation is that the internet and these social networks are out there, kids are interested in them, and they will be using them. Trying to lock them out of the schools, or pretending that they don't exist will just drive them "underground". It won't stop people from using them.

      Instead you bring it out in the open, talk about it, and help people use it more responsibly.
      • You're right. The real solution is to cut off kids' fingers at age 10, and reattach them when they graduate. Of course, everyone will have the fingers of a 10-year old, but these are just minor details...
  • The "NSBA" study in this case seems to be conducted by the National Software Business Aliance. http://www.bsa.org/ [bsa.org]
  • by athloi ( 1075845 ) on Wednesday August 08, 2007 @09:59AM (#20155971) Homepage Journal
    Those magic words, "who reported," show why this is non-important data although most will not consider it so. Like surveys, Nielsen ratings, man on the street interviews, and polls, this is a classic case of bad science. Take a sample and rely on the honesty of the people involved to report difficult truths. I'd say it's about as reliable as government promises.

    I'm all for a free internet, but that requires no one declare it "safe," because then fat politicians will feel compelled to attempt to make it so, even though that's mathematically impossible.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Corson ( 746347 )
      I wonder if, when "the researchers found exactly one student who reported they'd actually met a stranger from the internet without their parents' permission", the parents were there, too. :)
      • Probably the surveys anonymous, otherwise the students would be less likely to tell the truth.
        • Who says they wanted the truth?

          Doing a non-anonymous survey is a good way to skew the results the way you want. If you're looking to make the internet seem "safe," do all the interviews with the kids' parents sitting next to them. Nope, no porn on that Internet, no-siree.

  • by MikeRT ( 947531 ) on Wednesday August 08, 2007 @10:00AM (#20155991)
    There usually is a parent who is, for whatever reason, not involved. I bet if you did a study on the parents whose kids meet strangers in public after contacting them online, you'd find a few of the following things:

    1) Parents are working extra hours to buy fancy things.
    2) Parents are afraid of their kids being bitter toward them for *gasp* being AUTHORITY FIGURES!
    3) Parents are more concerned about being their kid's friend than a mother or father.
    4) Parents are too lazy to learn how to control their own home.
    5) The kids have internet access in their rooms, where their parents have far less control.

    #5 is something that my wife and I have already agreed to with our kids. They can be on the Internet all they want/need, but they will not be doing it in their room where no one can watch them. It's possible that they could sneak downstairs while we're asleep, but if they can just get out of bed and go to their desk, that makes it virtually impossible for us to police them.
    • "5) The kids have internet access in their rooms, where their parents have far less control."

      I don't have kids myself, but I met a woman recently that was very tech savvy. She and her husband had everything in the home network going through a proxy server and everything being logged. Then they actually read the logs. I thought that was a great idea.

      • by Hatta ( 162192 )
        I don't have kids myself, but I met a woman recently that was very tech savvy. She and her husband had everything in the home network going through a proxy server and everything being logged. Then they actually read the logs. I thought that was a great idea.

        I agree, that is a great idea. I can't think of a better way to teach kids about the benefits of encryption.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          I'm going to set up a proxy server for my kids. It will be like a cat and mouse game. They'll try to gain access to things they shouldn't, and I'll try to stop them. I can't think of a better way to teach my kids about computers and the Internet.

          To put it another way: I'm less concerned about them talking to strangers than I am about them not learning valuable skills.

    • #5 is something that my wife and I have already agreed to with our kids. They can be on the Internet all they want/need, but they will not be doing it in their room where no one can watch them. It's possible that they could sneak downstairs while we're asleep, but if they can just get out of bed and go to their desk, that makes it virtually impossible for us to police them.

      When I was a kid, my parents had internet access in my room :) I think we're seeing the first generation now where a significant proportion of parents are more computer savvy than their kids. In my case, I got into trouble for using more that 500MB of 'internet' every month because I spent 3x as much time on the computer as my parents. It didn't matter that I was writing C++ code and they were sharing family pics with the whole world (including some of me as baby in diapers). Fortunately, they weren't arre

      • I wouldn't necessarily say that the current generation knows so much more about the internet (compared to its kids) than the previous one did. The average knowledge rises, but so does the average knowledge of their kids. Also, the quality of tools and easy of use did increase incredibly during the last 10-20 years.

        But you still have essentially the same rather clueless parents with little time to spare to make li'l Billy's computer pron safe, and li'l Billy (and his friends) with a lot of spare time to work
        • I wouldn't necessarily say that the current generation knows so much more about the internet (compared to its kids) than the previous one did. The average knowledge rises, but so does the average knowledge of their kids. Also, the quality of tools and easy of use did increase incredibly during the last 10-20 years.

          Your point makes sense. One one hand you have people in their late 30s who are starting to become parents of teens. They experienced the growth of the internet in THEIR youth and are well versed in its use. On the other, you have myspace kids who think using meebo makes them better than the AOLuser. I sort of forgot that the latter aren't usually born to the former.

          I'm 21, and I'm expecting teen children in about 20 years. I also fully expect them to kick my ass at using technology since they'll know ('Wha

    • And for every "involved" parent, there are three Slashdotters who consider restrictions on kids' Internet usage unfair.
    • I don't have kids now, but when my fiancee and I get around to having them there will be no restrictions on what they do on the internet. If they need a computer, they'll have one that's capable of accessing the internet. That said, all their surfing will go through a gateway proxy which will log everything, and these logs WILL be read. The child will know that he/she is being monitored.

      That should keep them under control of them if they are technically inept. If, however, they are smart enough to circumven
    • If your kids don't have computers in their rooms how are they going to get their porn fix? Do you really want them jerking off in the living room?

      I mean, I agree with most of your points, but learning how to handle privacy is an important part of maturation. Privacy gives kids the freedom to explore and develop their own identity. If you've done your job as a parent, you have nothing to fear from the internet. If you teach them right and wrong, they'll know it when they see it, whether they're on the int
      • You seem to think that there are a lot of parents who try to control their kids' every move. I submit that reasonable restrictions (Be home by 10:00. No video games until your homework is done.) don't stunt kids' understanding of freedom.

        I'm not a parent yet. However when I do, they can do whatever they want when they are independent adults. However while I am still legally responsible for their wellbeing, and they are still living in my house, they will have to abide by whatever restrictions I believe
  • Unbelievable... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by kannibul ( 534777 )
    Any idiot knows the internet can be dangerous to children (and adults too...), yet, now they try to debunk that with some statistics? How good of a survey was this...

    If you're reading articles, sure, it can be safe (but exposure to non-appropriate material is still an issue), but when you engauge in social activities (chat, IM, etc) - it goes to a whole new level.

    Just simply...WOW.
    • by Hatta ( 162192 )
      Any idiot knows the internet can be dangerous to children (and adults too...),

      Yeah, I'm in mortal danger every time I click that mouse button. Please, someone does actual research and you counter with common sense? I guess any idiot knows the sun moves around the earth too.

      If you're reading articles, sure, it can be safe (but exposure to non-appropriate material is still an issue)

      Exactly what danger is posed by "exposure to non-appropriate material"? Seriously, what kind of damage will be done to a child
  • by PFI_Optix ( 936301 ) on Wednesday August 08, 2007 @10:03AM (#20156049) Journal
    It's about student productivity. It's a lot easier to ban IM/e-mail/social networking outright than try to enforce "now you can, now you can't" policies. Given access to sites like Myspace, a lot of kids would never get anything done without a teacher hovering over them constantly.

    It's also about network security. Giving a thousand high school students unfettered internet access is just asking for trouble, no matter how hard you try to protect your network.
  • by Shivetya ( 243324 ) on Wednesday August 08, 2007 @10:11AM (#20156151) Homepage Journal
    by a teacher than by a total stranger on the internet.

    While we do get some sensational stories on occasion, usually involving hottie female teacher or some male gym coach, there are hundreds of cases that never get national press attention. There are some estimates that children are more in danger from teachers and other school employees than any other source (they were comparing to the scare on churches)
    • Oh, we had that kind of teacher. It was an open secret that you needed three things for good grades from him: Boobs, short skirt and a blouse that showed everything down to your navel. But be prepared that he'll try to "find out if everything's real"...

      Finally, he was "transfered". In other words, he's now probably in another school, molesting the girls there. No, he wasn't interested in boys. Would've made getting through history and geography a lot easier...
    • s/teachers/parents+otherfamilymembers+trustedfrie n ds

      With all the scaremongering around random strangers abducting children off the Internet, the statistics are telling. In one year in Canada (2005 or so), there were thousands of abducted children reported. 5 were taken by strangers. 5. Abuse figures are similarly telling.

      If we ever cared about protecting children, we'd keep them as far away as possible from parents, family members, and family friends. But it's more fun to whip people into a frenzy over som
  • by NJVil ( 154697 ) on Wednesday August 08, 2007 @10:12AM (#20156165)
    Certain people who use the internet are dangerous, for sure. Certain website might expose children to things (Sex, violence, etc.) that parents might not want them to see, for sure. But in and of itself the internet has not killed, raped, or assaulted anyone. (Apart from goatse and tubgirl)

    Speaking as a teacher and future school administrator, schools are legally and morally obligated to protect the children in their care. No principal wants to be known as the "Porn Principal" who allows high school students to surf for pornography. No principal wants to have to answer calls from the media regarding why little Amber was allowed to chat with a previously-convicted pedophile from the school library and ended up kidnapped and molested as she walked home (What do you mean you don't know why? What kind of unsafe place is this?) The odds of these things happening is small, but it's a simple risk analysis. What do school administrators have to gain from granting students total access to the internet? Sadly, not much, really. So, sometimes they go a little overboard.

    Children, however, have to be taught responsibility in a controlled environment. Generally, most school buildings can be rather well-controlled (doors locked, visitors checked, metal detectors, etc.). The internet, however, opens up access to the school and reduces the control of the administration, which is something most administrators are very afraid of. Combined with the slight possibility of things going terribly wrong, we pay to have the filters block out most "objectionable" content.
  • Go ahead and tell that to others who would sensor the internet, such as the US Senate [slashdot.org] and the government of the Peoples Republic of China [amnesty.org]. Both blather on about using force to make the internet safe. They're really just trying to stay in power. One by manipulating ignorant fear and one through imprisoning dissenters. Both need your attention.
  • FTA:

    ... Only 20% said they'd seen "inappropriate" pictures on social networking sites in the last 3 months. (And only 11% of parents concur, even for the last 6 months.)...

    ...In fact, after surveying 1,277 students, the researchers found exactly one who reported they'd actually met a person from the internet without their parents' permission...

    So this is good news why? Because not ALL of the kids saw inappropriate pictures? Because LOTS of kids aren't secretly meeting people they met on the internet? And did anything bad happen to that kid as a result? (the details might cast a whole new light on this story). Hey, I just did a study and found out guns aren't as dangerous as we thought. Very few kids are killed by guns in school, so let's get rid of the metal detectors.

    As a parent I was very frustrated about internet access in sch

    • by Hatta ( 162192 )
      Very few kids are killed by guns in school, so let's get rid of the metal detectors.

      That's a great idea. We should be spending that money on education, not treating our students like prisoners. By and large the people who are going to be causing trouble are those who don't want to be there. I don't see any reason to force them. Get rid of the metal detectors, get rid of the trouble makers and schools might actually become places where people go to learn instead of a nightmarish hellhole.
  • by jc42 ( 318812 ) on Wednesday August 08, 2007 @10:50AM (#20156641) Homepage Journal
    If this works like most school actions, it'll be a disaster. The kids will soon be deciding that the Internet isn't cool; it's boring and "hard". They'll drop it and go back to other ways of upsetting the adults.

    If we really want young people to become familiar with the Internet, and learn to use it for their benefit, we should take the approach that works: Ban its use by children (where "child" even includes someone 17 years old). Put all sorts of leaky barriers in the way of their access. That way, the kids will be fascinated by it, and will spend lots of time learning how to use it.

    Lots of people have observed that the main effect of most schools is to take various topics and make them boring and uninteresting. Consider a topic like history. How could the story of all the people who came before us (and messed up this world so thoroughly ;-) be boring? But the schools (and some historians) manage to make it so.

    Or consider music. That's a hard-wired human activity, that can be intensely exciting, right? How can we teach kids to not waste their time learning to make music, and make them content to spend the rest of their lives at a desk job? Right: Give them music lessons.

    We should totally ban the use of the Internet in schools. They'll just do to it what they've done to so many other exciting human developments; they'll teach the kids that it's boring and uninteresting, and too hard for anyone but a "nerd" to understand.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Opportunist ( 166417 )
      Oh, it can be fun. Just take a teacher that knows what buttons to press. A history teacher I once had started a lesson about WW1 with the words "I give you an hour 'til the first one pukes. Now, the battle of Ypres in 1915...".

      It didn't take an hour.

      We had the same teacher in chemistry. A few weeks later he started an hour with "Well, today we'll mix up some mustard gas. I'll need a volunteer?" When we stared at him and nobody willingly raised his hand (for the first time in chem, he was known for pretty we
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by jc42 ( 318812 )
        Heh. I had a history teacher like that in high school. He taught us about all sorts of things that weren't covered in the standard textbooks, and told us where to learn more. For example, he taught us about the War of 1812, which is carefully skipped over in most history classes. He gave us some interesting readings about the US Civil War, including one that explained why Lincoln's famous Emancipation Proclamation didn't actually emancipate any slaves. In the section on the Western Expansion, he mention
  • I'm all for a school board governing body declaring that the Internet is not dangerous. However, aren't teachers doing everything they can to keep their student's attention? All these Web 2.0 kids are MySpacing, Facebooking and blogging during class already. Why would you want to encourage that?

    Seems to me that cellphones with web access are causing more and more distraction. When was the last time you saw a student not in a classroom setting without a phone stapled to their ear? Actively encouraging use of

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