Last updated: February 21, 2008 - 1:37am
TEACHING KIDS TO DRIVE THE NET
[SOURCE: C-Net|News.com, AUTHOR: Stefanie Olsen]
Do children need training wheels for the digital world? For a growing number of educational groups and companies with youth-friendly Internet services, the answer is a resounding "yes." "Kids are the ones who spend more time on the Internet--it's very much an extension of their real world," said Warren Nightingale, a media education specialist at the Media Awareness Network, a children and technology educational nonprofit in Canada. "It's important to get the skills in place so they don't put themselves at risk for unwanted attention or give out personal information." Though children always seem to have a leg up on parents when it comes to adapting to new technology, experts say few of them have been taught the do's and don'ts online. But parents and educators are more concerned than ever with dangers presented by the Internet, given reports of privacy invasions and predators targeting children through chat rooms and blogs. Research shows that 94 percent of kids access the Internet from home. Some of them are already well-versed in using the Internet by the time they're in fourth grade, or 8 years old, according to a study from the Media Awareness Network, which is funded largely through government grants, conducted in Canada. Eight years old is a pivotal age for children developmentally because that's the time they seek out social networks and start to get a sense of who they are, Nightingale said.
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