Infographic: Students have their say on online rights and responsibilities

Check out the results of the 2013 ‘Have your Say’ survey, the UK’s largest ever survey of young people’s attitudes toward online rights and responsibilities. Over 24,000 young people age 7-19 from across the UK responded to the survey, and a further 90 young people explored these findings in focus groups.

Two infographics below with primary and secondary results – these are large files, so why not make a poster! And ask your students what their top ten are to compare.



The Internet, Youth Deviance and the Problem of Juvenoia

This video is a talk given by Dr. David Finkelhor, is the Director of the Crimes against Children Research Center, Co-Director of the Family Research Laboratory and Professor of Sociology at the University of New Hampshire, entitled “The Internet, Youth Deviance and the Problem of Juvenoia”

Is the internet really an amplifier for youth deviance, bad behavior, and risk? Or is it just the opposite? Are we simply applying age-old paranoia about youth (juvenoia) to the newest technology and coming to all the wrong conclusions? Could the Internet be in fact promoting better, healthier culture, identity exploration with less risk, and increased accountability for personal actions? Dr. David Finkelhor takes on these questions with research, facts, historical perspectives — and connections with the fields of child development, human behavior, and psychology.

This talk is well worth watching – especially if you are dealing with parents or colleagues who take it on face value that the Internet is making children stupid, cheapening culture, and is the onramp to deviant behavior and predators.

The Internet, Youth Deviance and the Problem of Juvenoia on Vimeo on Vimeo

This video provides a lot of food for thought:

  • Why do we label and blame kids for normal behavior?
  • Is a fear OF children masquerading as a fear FOR children?
  • Is the Internet similar to other technologies that caused social changes (like cars, TV, phones, etc.)? Or is it vastly different?
  • Is “stranger danger”, sexting crackdowns, and technophobia really about protecting kids or is it political grandstanding and a way to sell fear-based products?
  • Why do we ignore the many indications of better, healthier, connected, smarter youth and believe all too easily that children today are narcissistic, alienated, and addicted to techno-drivel?

Love your thoughts!


Online safety report discourages scare tactics

A new, really important report has just come out about children and online safety. It is sensible and research-based, with excellent recommendations. The strongest recommendation is that scare tactics DON’T WORK to keep children safe online. I hate to sound surprised, but it is really a breath of fresh air. Educators and parents should read it!

Although unwanted online solicitations can have an alarming impact, recent studies have shown that “the statistical probability of a young person being physically assaulted by an adult who they first met online is extremely low,” the working group noted.

And young people’s use of social networking sites does not increase their risk of victimization, according to a 2008 report that appeared in American Psychologists.

via Online safety report discourages scare tactics | Featured SAFE |

And kudos to eSchoolNews for an excellent report on a complex and highly charged subject.


Technology policy and human nature

“Please do the following: sit down with your child (and they are just children still) and tell them that they are not allowed to be a member of any social networking site. Today!

Let them know that you will at some point every week be checking their text messages online! You have the ability to do this through your cell phone provider.

Let them know that you will be installing Parental Control Software so you can tell every place they have visited online, and everything they have instant messaged or written to a friend. Don’t install it behind their back, but install it!

Over 90% of all homework does not require the internet, or even a computer. Do not allow them to have a computer in their room, there is no need”

From an e-mail sent home from a New Jersey middle school principal attempting to curb cyberbullying at his school (source)

Changes in technology mirror changes in society and culture, and can impact schools in a number of ways. Some schools hide their heads in the sand. Some take extreme stands like the principal quoted above. Some attempt to address the issues more evenhandedly, even though the law is not clear, nor is the “right” thing to do always obvious.

Schools try to create policies to address issues of cybersafety, security, fair use, and other new issues brought up as technology changes. But these are not actually policy issues, any more than cyberbullying is a technology issue.

People have difficulty making a choice when presented with too many options. And schools are collections of people, and to make it more complicated, people who do not have ultimate authority since they have to answer to parents, the community, school boards, district, city, state, and national oversight.

I just read a study that said that when people do make a choice from among equal options, afterwards they realign their thinking to elevate whatever choice they made to be the best one. We’ve all seen this, once a school policy gets created, it’s hard to change people’s minds. It’s not just that it’s a lot of work to re-do policy, it’s also that once you do the work, your mind creates the illusion that the work and choices you’ve made are the best and most valuable.

As schools face cyberbullying, sexting, fair use, online security, etc. they see a confusing array of policy, tradition, legal, moral and ethical concerns. When confused, people retreat from the threat. Then once that choice to retreat is made, even if they know it’s not optimal, they remain stubbornly wed to that choice.

Julie Evans of Student Speak-Up shared this insight last year after her focus groups with students said that teachers who got training about the Internet started using it less. Confusion creates support for limitations, and those limitations get set in stone. It’s human nature.

To me, this makes the task to involve schools in making informed choices regarding technology policy even more urgent.

The problem with this principal’s stand is not that he’s wrong. In fact, he’s probably right. If he had a magic wand and could actually make parents stop their children from texting and accessing the Internet, and the children actually stopped, and we rolled the clock back to 1970, we could just go back to the good old days of kids harassing each other in person.

The problem with this principal’s plan is that it won’t work. We simply can’t put this genie back in the bottle. We HAVE to address the issue of digital citizenship in the real climate that children actually live in.

This is a floodgate well and truly open, whether or not you declare it closed.

The panic about panic buttons

In the UK, Facebook is being pressured to add a “panic button” to the site in the theory that youth can get instant help if bullied or approached by unsavory characters. Unfortunately this reflects silly thinking about the actual dangers of social networking and how youth respond to them. This article by Anne Collier of ConnectSafely explains why.

She wraps up with this powerful thought –

“But for heaven’s sake – or even better, for youth’s sake – let’s please take the “panic” out of this whole important test. It simply doesn’t lend itself to the calm, mutually respectful conversations that help youth develop the critical thinking that protects on the social Web. We had our predator panic on this side of the pond starting in 2006.

At the Family Online Safety Institute’s annual conference in Washington last fall, the Net-safety field declared it over with a strong consensus that scary messaging is not productive. Why? Because it makes young people less inclined to want to come to us for help. They tend to get as far away as possible from scared, overreacting adults; find workarounds that are readily available to them; and then leave us out of the equation right when loving, steady parent-child communication is most needed.”

Please read the whole article: Connect Safely |Facebook: Why a Safety Center and not a ‘panic button’


New Hampshire teachers say filtering hampers teaching

via Cyberoam Survey Reveals Most Schools and Teachers Suspect Students Can Bypass Content Filtering Soutions

This survey was conducted by a filtering company and taken by school administrators and teachers at the annual Christa McAuliffe Technology Conference held in Nashua, New Hampshire in Nov. 2009.

  • 66% of the school administrators and teachers surveyed indicated that students know how to bypass their school system’s content-filtering solution
  • 56% sense that their current security solution hampers the teaching process.
  • 89% consider the Internet is generally safe for students.

While I disagree with the filtering company conclusion that these results mean that better filtering is THE  answer, the numbers are interesting. What does it mean when we know something doesn’t work and we keep doing it anyway?


Internet safety – fear tactics don’t work

via NetFamilyNews

Last week Chairman Julius Genachowski unveiled the children-and-family part of the FCC’s universal broadband plan, designed to enable, among other things, 21st-century education. There’s just one problem: Schools have long turned to law enforcement for guidance in informing their communities about youth safety on the Net, broadband or otherwise, and the guidance they’re getting scares parents, school officials, and children about using the Internet.

Read the rest of this article from Net Family News Major obstacle to universal broadband & what can help for the real facts about Internet safety.

Ann Collier has collected a compact list of resources that YOU NEED today about a new approach called the “social norms” approach, used by health professionals to “identify, model, and promote the healthy, protective behavior.”

The scare tactics and stranger-danger approach prevalent over the last decade is “doubly problematic”, says Ann. It not only fails to change behavior, it hampers the efforts of educators to integrate technology into meaningful, relevant learning experiences for youth that WOULD change behavior.

The good news is this appears to be changing, and kudos to the FCC for seeing this so clearly – the bad news is, there’s still a long way to go to reach most K-12 schools.


Students safest using the internet when they are trusted to manage their own risk

From the UK Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills

Pupils in schools that use “managed” online systems have a better knowledge and understanding of how to stay safe when using new technologies, according to a report published today by Ofsted, the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills.

“Managed” systems are systems that have fewer inaccessible sites than “locked” systems and so require pupils to take more responsibility for their own safety. “Locked” systems make many websites inaccessible and although this ensures pupils’ safety in school it does not encourage the pupils to take responsibility for their actions or prepare them for dealing with systems that are not locked.

DARPA Promotes High-Tech Education

Citing studies that show a marked decline in the number of students pursuing education in math, science and engineering, the Pentagon’s Defense Advance Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is requesting proposals for “innovative new ideas to encourage students to major in CS-STEM and pursue careers as engineers and scientists.”

DARPA was the agency that funded the research that created what we now know as the Internet. It’s great that they are again looking to fund this kind of educational goals.

What kinds of projects do you think they should fund? Please comment!

via DARPA Promotes High-Tech Education.

Students say teachers limit technology use

Last week posts from two popular edubloggers hammered home the same point – that technology is going to make an impact on education whether we are ready or not.

These horses are out of the barn – Doug Johnson, Blue Skunk Blog

There are some educational “truths” that we can’t change, even if we wanted to. These educational technology resources, annoyances, and conditions are here to stay despite some educators denial, resistance and fast grip on the status quo.

I Don’t Need Your Network (or Your Computer, or Your Tech Plan, or Your…) – Will Richardson, Weblogg-ed

When do we stop trying to fight the inevitable and start thinking about how to embrace it?

As usual, the students are way ahead of the curve. They don’t need a blog to tell them that their access to learning technology is being denied, meaning not just Internet access, but access to personal technology.

I blogged about this yesterday based on student focus group data, but here’s the qualitative data from over 280,000 K-12 students supporting the same thing. (Data from Speak Up 2008)

Student response to: Besides not having enough time in your school day, what are the major obstacles to using technology in your school? (Check all that apply) Grade 6-8 Grade 9-12
School filters or firewalls block websites I need to use



Teachers limit our technology use



I cannot access my personal email account or send email or IM to classmates



I cannot use my own computer or mobile devices



There are rules against using technology at my school



Internet access is not fast enough



None of the above



My assignments don’t require using technology



Software is not good enough



Computers or other tech equipment are not available



Teachers don’t know how to use the technology



I am unable to access the Internet



I don’t have the skills I need



When 34% of today’s 6-8th graders say their teachers limit them from using technology, what does this mean for the future? I think what children are learning is that teachers are out of touch with the real world, and worse, that school is where you literally power down and wait to be told what to do.

OK, granted — not every student has visions of exemplary learning when we ask them about technology. BUT, we simply can’t ignore this either. Many of these students ARE interested in learning.

It means we are telling them that they must achieve, but preventing it at the same time. And there is no one wiser to hypocrisy than a teenager. We run the risk of losing a generation of young adults who are taking a good hard look at the way the real world works and comparing it against the artificial limits placed on them in school. And when we tell them “it’s for your own good” we simply lose all credibility.

According to the student Speak Up 2008 data, only one-third of high school students who participated in the poll think their school is doing a good job preparing them for the jobs of the future. Think this is just kids whining? Nope – even fewer numbers of their parents think that. Yet, a majority of school principals (56 percent) say their schools are doing a good job. Who is kidding whom?

So this is straight from the horse’s mouth, not edublogger ponderings … what are we gonna do about it?


PS And do you know what YOUR students would say about this? Find out! Sign up for Speak Up 2009 (survey open until Dec 23, 2009.)