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10 Social and Educational Strategies to Develop Personal and Community Responsibility A preadolescent boy using an Internet-enabled computer in class is surfing the Internet. On his search engine, he comes across a link to a Web site. He raises his hand and tells his teacher, "I think I am about to go somewhere that I shouldn't go." The teacher stops the class and asks the student to explain to the class why he thought his surfing might have been about to take him to a place that he should not have gone. 10.1 FOUNDATIONS OF RESPONSIBLE CHOICE Linda Roberts, then at the Department of Education, told the commit- tee the story described above. The boy involved is arguably less vulner- able to being exposed to inappropriate material on the Internet than if he used any technological blocking mechanism for protection. The reason is that his "filtering mechanism" has been internalized and he has internal criteria for deciding what might constitute inappropriate material. In other words, a child who faces a free choice and chooses respon- sible and ethical options over others is protecting himself. Thus, the issue at hand is one that relates to the sense of ethics and responsibility and the character underlying a free (and often unaided) choice. Indeed, it has been frequently mentioned to the committee that those who really want to obtain inappropriate sexually explicit material on the Internet will generally find ways of doing so, circumventing all technological mea- sures to curtail access to such material. For determined individuals with 218
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SOCIAL AND EDUCATIONAL STRATEGIES 219 the technical skills to do so, only a conscious choice to refrain from such seeking will reduce his or her access to these materials. Almost by definition, a child is not yet fully mature, even if, as in the case of adolescents, their physiology may be fully capable of sexual en- gagement. No maturing child is immune to temptation. No curious child is safe from the cyberspace equivalents of touching the hot stove, tum- bling into the unprotected swimming pool, and getting into any "nice man's" car. Children need supervision. They also need love. Parents and teachers provide both. Children need significant adult reference points signifi- cant adults who, in fact, function as reference works. They are there to answer questions and point inquiring minds in the direction of "right" (in the sense of sensible, ethical, correct, and age-appropriate) answers. Ex- perimentation is part of the discovery process; reckless endangerment is not. As children develop morally and ethically, they internalize principles and values that work from within to prompt external actions. Once inter- nalized, they support "habits" and facilitate habitual behavior. Thus the role of ethical and moral education is to articulate guiding principles for the child that can be freely chosen and, once internalized, serve to prompt appropriate behavior. A person of character is a principled person. Sig- nificant adults parents, teachers, coaches, counselors, clergy articulate and explain principles to the young, and the learning role of the latter is to assimilate them. The problem of developing character is compounded by the impor- tant role of community. In real life, the presence of a supportive commu- nity is generally regarded as a major positive factor in the development of an individual's sense of social responsibility and responsible behavior. But in an online environment (especially an anonymous one), a shared sense of community with all of the attendant rights and responsibili- ties is hard to develop among individuals who see the Internet in purely instrumental terms. Anonymity in particular (as would be true in an environment that does not require individual logins, and as is true for much Web surfing) enables individuals to escape responsibility and to avoid negative consequences for inappropriate behavior.2 In any event, encouraging youngsters to become principled persons is no easy task. One path to a principled life focuses on the internalization ~See, for example, Robert Putnam, 2000, Bowling Alone, Simon & Schuster, New York. 2True anonymous Web surfing is possible only if one takes special measures to be anony- mous. Nevertheless, the perception that one is anonymous on the Internet even without taking special measures is strong, and in any case, a perception of anonymity (or at least privacy) can result simply from having a screen that no one else can see.
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220 YOUTH, PORNOGRAPHY, AND THE INTERNET of family values, family traditions, and shared meanings within the fam- ily that can help to shape the developing character of a child, and help "explain" why a given youngster chooses to do this or avoid that. For those who are religious, this can include faith-based values in this inter- nalization process. These principles and values can serve to help a child judge what is or is not reasonable in a context broader than the imme- diacy of pleasure and pain, of "getting caught" or "getting away with it." Indeed, an approach based primarily on punishment presupposes that children engaging in inappropriate behavior will be caught misbe- having. As a practical matter, detection of such behavior will often not occur, especially if those children seek to remain undetected. While the fear of punishment will deter some children, others often do things for which they might be caught and punished in spite of that possibility- fear of punishment is not enough to deter these children from things they really want to do. Moreover, the research literature indicates that the threat of punishment per se is not an effective approach to helping indi- viduals internalize codes of behavior.3 While such a threat is sometimes effective in deterring undesirable behavior, individuals who find them- selves free of the threat often revert to the undesired behavior. These comments do not detract from the positive role that punish- ment or discipline may play as one element of an approach to education. It is entirely appropriate to impose sanctions for the deliberate violation of rules if such rules have been explained clearly and discussion with chil- dren about their rationale and purpose has been entertained. But expla- nation and discussion are essential for putting these rules into context as appropriate reflections of parental values. Every parent has the difficult task of determining where trust ends and neglect begins. They want to trust their children, and their children- particularly in the teen years want to be trusted. But parents don't want to be negligent, and their offspring often find it difficult to appreciate the tug-of-war within a parent's heart between the desire to trust and the fear of neglect. Though parents might wish otherwise, there is no clear and simple line of demarcation. For example, as noted in Section 10.4, parents can insist that children not have access to a computer in the privacy of their bedrooms. Better to have it outside in the hall, or downstairs in the family room to have it, in other words, in a place where casual passersby can appear at any time. It is not that the children aren't trusted; it is simply an acknowledgment that 3see, for example, M.~. Hoffman, igss, ''Morai Development,,, in Developmental Psychol- ogy: An Advanced Textbook, 2nd Ed., M.H. sornstein and M.E. Lamb, eds., Erlbaum, Hillsdale, N.J.; and G.H. srody and D.R. Shaffer, 1982, '~Contributions of Parents and Peers to Chil- dren~s Moral Socialization,,, Developmental Review 2: 31-75.
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SOCIAL AND EDUCATIONAL STRATEGIES 221 children are children and are more likely to do the right thing when they know they might be observed. By extension, the character issue touches what is commonly referred to as "socially responsible business." This is an area of practical, applied business ethics. As in any other industry, those in the adult entertain- ment industry have a social responsibility not only to provide return to shareholders but also to behave in ways that promote the good of society. Because society's best hope for a better future lies with its children, all businesses have responsibilities for helping and not hindering the young along a safe path to mature character development. One dimension of that responsibility is to engage in business lines and practices that uphold human dignity and refrain from exploitation. But a perhaps more important dimension is to help create an environment in which children can play, learn, and explore without fear of coming across material that is inappropriate for them. Thus, for example, entirely apart from legal requirements to do so, those in the adult online industry have important ethical and moral responsibilities to keep their material away from children, even if that has some negative financial implications. 10.2 DEFINITION OF A SOCIAL OR EDUCATIONAL STRATEGY For purposes of this report, social or educational strategies are coordi- nated plans of action that seek to develop in young people the ability to make responsible and safe choices about Internet use, to make good deci- sions about content to be viewed, to reduce their exposure to inappropriate material, and to mitigate the consequences, if any, of viewing inappropriate material. These strategies include activities that educate parents and young people on Internet use and address a variety of issues arising from online use, such as how to reduce exposure to inappropriate material and how to give young people skills to mitigate any possible effects they might experi- ence from encountering sexually explicit or inappropriate material online. Through its deliberations and on the basis of testimony and other information received, the committee has found that social and educa- tional strategies are foundational for children's safe, effective, and appro- priate use of the Internet. This is not to say that technology plays no role indeed, many technological tools can support the development and teaching of skills, attitudes, and ethical codes of behavior that will enable young people to use the Internet appropriately. Rather, exclusive or even primary reliance on technological measures for protection would be an abdication of parental and community responsibility and is likely to be ineffective as well. Table 10.1 provides an overview of the social and educational strate- gies described in this report.
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222 YOUTH, PORNOGRAPHY, AND THE INTERNET TABLE 10.1 Social and Educational Strategies for Protecting Children on the Internet Description One Illus Parental supervision Peer assistance Acceptable use policies (AUPs) Internet safety education (ISE) Information and media (I/M) literacy Compelling content Media campaigns Active, in-person supervision of child's Internet use Help provided by sibling or peer mentor acting as guide to child's use of the Internet Statement explicating in detail what constitutes acceptable and unacceptable use of the Internet and what consequences flow from the latter Explicit instruction on what constitutes safe Internet behavior and how to recognize dangerous, inappropriate situations Facility in using critical reasoning skills to obtain information sought and to evaluate the content of information that . . . IS reCelVea Content specifically designed to appeal to children that is non-commercial and educational and/or positive in orientation Initiatives featuring media spots and public service announcements about the nature of the Internet, the potential dangers of Internet activity for children, and parental options for exerting influence 10.3 CONTEXTUAL ISSUES FOR SOCIAL AND EDUCATIONAL STRATEGIES New technology often does not live up to its promises. One reason is that because technology changes rapidly for everyone, technology tools developed to solve problems exposed by other technological develop- ments may be quickly rendered obsolete. But a more important reason is that the underlying issues are social. It is true that the Internet may have
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SOCIAL AND EDUCATIONAL STRATEGIES ldren on 223 One Illustrative Advantage One Illustrative Disadvantage Provides closest connection to the values that the parent wishes to impart to child Provides guidance and influence to which children may be more responsive (com- pared to parental advice or assistance) Provides clear behavioral guidelines for child about what should and should not be done Provides clear guidance for child about how to conduct himself or herself on the Internet Emphasizes critical reasoning skills that are valuable in many contexts other than Internet use Availability of such material would help to divert children's attention from inappropriate materials and experiences Can contribute a basic awareness of the issues in a broad segment of the population Probably not feasible to provide constant active supervision of child's Internet access, especially as child gets older Older sibling may lead younger one into trouble; non-family peer mentors may spend little time with child Infractions of AUP may not be discovered; without concerted attention, may become just one more form to be filled out No obvious forum in most existing curricula to include ISE No obvious forum in most existing curricula to include I/M literacy Child market not preferred by most businesses because adult market is more lucrative Absent follow-through in other non- media channels, significant constructive behavioral changes in parents are unlikely exacerbated public concerns about the access of young people to inappro- priate sexually explicit material, but the Internet is more a symptom than the basic issue. Furthermore, those who really want to disseminate inap- propriate materials or find inappropriate materials on the Internet have proven adept at circumventing technology-based solutions. As the tech- nology improves, so also do its circumventers, in a never-ending game of action and reaction. This pattern is repeated in almost every instance where technology is used to thwart undesirable behavior.
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224 YOUTH, PORNOGRAPHY, AND THE INTERNET The committee believes that the fundamental issue is how to teach a young person to make wise choices, to stay in control of his or her online experiences, to be critical and skeptical about the underlying messages in advertising and romanticized and sexualized images, and to report other users soliciting personal information or harassing them. A young person who has been taught effectively about such matters will bring that training to any device that he or she uses and in any venue that offers online access. An analogy might be drawn to children and swimming pools. Swim- ming pools pose some threat to the safety and well-being of children. But swimming pools provide benefits to their owners and children in many different ways. Technology in the form of fences around pools, pool alarms, and locks can help protect children from drowning in swimming pools. However, teaching a child to swim and when to avoid pools is a far safer approach than relying on locks, fences, and alarms to prevent him or her from drowning. Does this mean that parents should not buy fences, alarms, and locks? Of course not because they do provide some benefit. But parents cannot rely exclusively on these devices to keep their children safe from drowning, and most parents recognize that a child who knows how to swim is less likely to be harmed than one who does not. Further- more, teaching a child to swim and to exercise good judgment about bodies of water to avoid has applicability and relevance far beyond swimming pools as any parent who takes a child to the beach can testify. Note also that social and educational strategies are the only way to deal with young people determined to seek out inappropriate material. Those who are determined are bound to find ways to circumvent any technologi- cal measures; to the extent that social and educational strategies can reduce the desire and motivation for seeking out inappropriate material or engag- ing in inappropriate activities, such behavior can be reduced. When tech- nological protection does not work, or when it is not present, the individual involved must rely on his or her own internal resources to cope with the issue, whether it is in choosing to refrain from "getting into trouble" or knowing how to cope with whatever trouble arises. In designing social and educational strategies, developmental issues are critical. For example, very young children are generally not capable of handling a full range of unconstrained choices. However, as they gradu- ally mature, it is usually appropriate to give them a wider range of choices and increasing amounts of responsibility. Of course, the nature and scope of increased freedoms to choose are not generally based solely on age, but for most young people, age is a relevant factor in teaching them increas- ingly mature and responsible behavior.4 4In some ways, the developmental issue is similar to that of learning to drive. Licenses for driving an automobile in all states are graduated to some extent Learners permit and
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SOCIAL AND EDUCATIONAL STRATEGIES 225 For example, one time-honored practice of good parenting is to teach children to make responsible decisions by sharply constraining their choices at first and then broadening the universe of choices as they grow more mature and more capable of making informed and wise decisions. Of course, under these circumstances, children may make some mistakes and injudicious choices. But when the universe of choices is limited to those that are at least minimally acceptable, children have a chance to learn how to make good choices by exercising choice. Further, the decision-making skills they acquire in doing so can be carried over to their later lives in which the universe of choices is not composed exclusively of safe options. A major point to be considered about social and educational strate- gies is that they are not simple to implement. They require forethought, planning, and extensive follow-through. They can be costly, both in terms of dollars and in terms of time. Often, they conflict with other pressing needs. For example, most K-12 curricula are already overloaded, and information and media literacy curricula must compete for time in the schedule with physical education, sex education, consumer literacy, and a variety of other pressures on the curriculum. Pediatricians, who can speak with youth about safety and puberty, and must complete health forms to be submitted to schools, have limited time with each of their young pa- tients. Parental efforts must compete with making sure that children clean their rooms, do their homework, get to the soccer or basketball game on time, avoid unhealthy use of drugs and alcohol, and so on. On the other hand, if the problem of exposure to inappropriate mate- rials and experiences is as severe and consequential as many parents believe it to be, there is no particular evidence indicating that the cost of such programs is exorbitant. Moreover, the benefits that accrue from effective social and educational strategies go far beyond protecting chil- dren and youth from inappropriate sexually explicit material. They have relevance to many situations that individuals are likely to encounter, both online and offline, and will help them to navigate their Internet experi- ences with confidence and wisdom. 10.4 PARENTAL INVOLVEMENT AND SUPERVISION There is a broad consensus that the best approach to protecting young people on the Internet from inappropriate material and online predators full driving privileges), and in some cases more finely (e.g., teens with solo driving privi- leges only during the day). While the notion of government licensing for using the Internet is not particularly appealing or sensible, the idea of age-based expectations for appropriate Internet use makes developmental sense. Parents may wish to consider what skills and knowledge related to the Internet they want their children to have before they give them different degrees of unsupervised Internet access.
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Representative terms from entire chapter:
226 YOUTH, PORNOGRAPHY, AND THE INTERNET is the attentive presence of a responsible parent, teacher, librarian, or mentor who is available to provide help and guidance, and to intervene when necessary. While this image does characterize some family situa- tions, parents in most families are pressed for time. Parents in many fami- lies today face long workdays, long commutes, and considerable work- related overnight travel. Single-parent households are common, as are families in which both parents work full time. These facts suggest that continual in-person supervision of a child's Internet usage by a parent is not likely to be achieved by many families. Notwithstanding limits on the time that parents have available, par- ents can still take actions in the home setting that can help their children to develop a sense of safe Internet use. No one action is definitive, and nothing effective can be done just once, but no sensible parent has ever imagined that the task of parenting and of teaching one's children the skills in navigating through any aspect of life would be easy. · Parents can develop a basic understanding of what is on the Internet and what their children can do with it. The Internet world that most adults inhabit is far more work-centered than the one inhabited by most children, which focuses on social interaction, entertainment, and spontaneous play to a far greater degree. (This suggestion is not much different from the advice given in a non-Internet context that parents should be aware of the movies and TV shows and music that engage a child's attention.) Such understanding is useful from two perspectives. Parents who do not know what their children can do and see on the Internet may be overly complacent about the dangers to their children. Also, parents who do not know the routes through which their children can be exposed to such inappropriate material and dangerous experiences may be exces- sively fearful because they lack perspective on the ease or frequency with which such exposures might occur. It is noteworthy that a Pew Internet and American Life survey found that parents who do not use the Internet themselves generally tend to be more concerned for their children's Inter- net safety than parents with more online experience.5 Parents also learn from more experienced parents, child-care work- ers, and pediatricians, about age-appropriate "harm prevention" steps to take in homes: remove lead paint; install child-resistant clips on drawers where chemicals, knives, or guns are kept; install child-resistant covers for electric outlets; teach children never to use the stove without an adult 5Pew Internet Project. 2001. Teenage Life Online: The Rise of the Instant-message Generation and the Internet's Impact on Friendships and Family Relationships. Pew Internet and American Life Project, Washington, D.C. Available online at
SOCIAL AND EDUCATIONAL STRATEGIES 227 present; obtain and use bicycle helmets; and so on. Inquiries to these more experienced and knowledgeable individuals could result in analo- gous recommendations to new parents regarding Internet safety. · Computers can be located in such a way that private, solitary viewing by children is not possible. For example, computers located in private bed- rooms cannot be supervised as easily as computers in public spaces (e.g., in family rooms or dens). When the potential exists for a responsible adult to happen across a screen displaying possibly inappropriate mate- rial while the child is there, the child is likely to be motivated to refrain from deliberate misbehavior. Moreover, if the child encounters some- thing upsetting or inappropriate by mistake, it is more likely that he or she can obtain help more quickly and spontaneously. Also, if a computer is located in a public space, the adult supervisor can more easily wander over to inquire about what the child is doing. · Parents and their children can discuss household rules and expectations for a child's use of the Internet. Issues to discuss may included When and under what circumstances Internet use is permissible, The amount of time that a child may spend using the Internet, The types of activities and Web sites that are acceptable and unacceptable, Internet, and What information may be given out or disclosed when using the What should be done if the child becomes uncomfortable in us- ing the Internet. It may also be helpful for parents and children to discuss expectations for the use of the Internet at school. Depending on a given family's values, a school's acceptable use policy may allow certain Web sites or activities to which a parent might object. · Parents can explicitly provide instruction and guidance to their children about inappropriate activities and explain why their viewing of sexually explicit materials may be inappropriate. Parents at one committee site visit went so far as to argue that the best way to educate children about inappropriate sites was to show them some inappropriate sites and engage in a conver- sation with them about why they were inappropriate. For these parents (and for a number of those who testified to the committee as well), the problem posed by sexually explicit material was not inherent in the sexual explicitness of the material itself, but rather the lack of a responsibly presented explanatory context. In other words, the concern was not so 6This list is derived from Nancy Willard, 2001, "Supporting the Safe and Responsible Use of the Internet by Students: A Children's Internet Protection Act Planning Guide," Center for Advanced Technology in Education, College of Education, University of Oregon, avail- able online at .
228 YOUTH, PORNOGRAPHY, AND THE INTERNET much that exposure to the material itself would be harmful, as the fact that without good explanations for why the material was inappropriate, children would get the wrong messages from it. · Parents can set limits for how much time a child may spend online. When time is constrained, people are more likely to concentrate on the activities that they value most highly. To the extent that children seek out inappropriate material out of idle curiosity, these are the activities that are most likely to be curtailed in the presence of time limits. · Parents can become more aware of tools and programs for Internet safety already available to them. For example, parents may not know about the resources of GetNetWise (Box 10.1) or about the suggestions on the Children's Partnership Web site on strategies they can use at home to guide their children's Internet use (Box 10.2~. Parents may also not know about the educational programs offered by their local libraries or by non-profit groups in their area and as such are missing other oppor- tunities to receive training and assistance in this effort (Box 10.3 pro- vides an example). · Parents can learn to deal with the fact that their children may be more adept technologically than they are. It is accepted wisdom that many chil- dren especially adolescents know more about technology than do their
SOCIAL AND EDUCATIONAL STRATEGIES 247 Though the skills of critical evaluation tend to be more useful in helping youth to deal with other types of material that may be inappro- priate, once an exposure to sexually explicit images has occurred, critical evaluation is still relevant. For example, the sexually explicit images found on adult-oriented Web sites generally do not provide "safer sex" messages. A good understanding of the role that sexual imagery plays in modern media could provide occasion for useful reflection. Critical evalu- ation thus provides skills that youth can use to help deal constructively with exposure to inappropriate material. Skills related to finding information are perhaps more relevant to the task of reducing exposure to sexually explicit material. For example, performing an effective Web search that is, one that retrieves relevant information and minimizes the amount of undesired information re- quires the selection of the right set of keywords, familiarity with Boolean logic, choosing the right search engine for the topic, and knowing how to navigate through a browser so that it is easy to enter and exit Web sites, databases, and other online resource tools. Such skills can help to reduce the likelihood that a searcher might come across inappropriate material inadvertently. For example, if a search engine returned a link to a Web site that the searcher had learned to recognize would likely contain adult- oriented sexually explicit material rather than information on reproduc- tion or sexually transmitted diseases, he or she could simply refrain from accessing that site. Programs in media literacy generally focus on understanding media messages in context. That is, the "face" content of a media message is only one aspect of it. A media-literate individual understands how to evaluate the truthfulness and reliability of a media message, and also knows to ask about the motivations and intent of the party or parties responsible for distributing that message. (Some such literacy is pro- vided in consumer education programs and materials, such as those pro- vided by Consumer Reports.) The significance of such literacy in the context of evaluating content found on the World Wide Web is obvious, where a good deal of Web content is not reliable or accurate by any standard. But media literacy also has relevance to an adolescent who may be exposed to inappropriate sexually explicit materials, either deliberately or inadvertently. Media lit- eracy can help a young person ask questions such as: · Why are these pictures being shown to me? · Is what I am seeing a true and realistic image of what sex is like? · Why are other people drawn to these images? · What important things are not being shown in these images?
248 YOUTH, PORNOGRAPHY, AND THE INTERNET · What are the circumstances that led the individuals being depicted into their being photographed? · Could an adult help me better understand what I'm seeing? In short, media literacy can help to promote a more detached, more evaluative, and more reflective view of media, messages, and one's own self. By doing so, it may well strengthen impulse control and empathy, and help lead one to question one's own behavior and is likely to reduce the exposure resulting from impulsive behavior. Information and media literacy also addresses the responsible place- ment of information on the Internet, for example on Web sites and in e- mail. Thus, the creation of information must be undertaken in a respon- sible manner that communicates what the creator intends. Responsibility might, for example, include the notion that the posting of composite pho- tographs (e.g., face of a classmate pasted onto a naked body without permission) constitutes unethical and inappropriate behavior. Repeated e-mails to a party (e.g., one person asking another for a date) can be regarded as harassment if the subject of the e-mails has requested a cessa- tion of such e-mails. The research base for understanding the effectiveness of information and media literacy training and education is thin, but two experimental studies provide evidence that suggests beneficial effects in the short run. One study provided some information and media literacy instruction to elementary school children viewing violent cartoons.31 This instruction asked them to think about the feelings of the victim of violence through- out the episode and those who received such instruction did not experi- ence a desensitizing change in attitude toward violence nor did they find the cartoon to be as funny as those not receiving such instruction. An- other study focused on girls in their early teens, instructing them in how to think critically about media messages regarding how women should think about romance, love, and sexuality.32 They responded by criticizing the media because they felt the media encouraged them to focus too much on romance and trying to attract men. If such studies can be generalized, helping youth to understand how and whv sexually explicit adult-ori- .J .J 1 31A.I. Nathanson and J. Cantor. 2000. "Reducing the Aggression-promoting Effect of Violent Cartoons by Increasing Children's Fictional Involvement with the Victim," Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media 44: 125-142. 32Sarah Keller, "How Do Early Adolescent Girls Use Media to Shape Their Romantic Identities?" unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, 2000. Some of the results from this dissertation can be found in National Research Council and Institute of Medicine, 2001, Nontechnical Strategies to Reduce Children's Exposure to Inap- propriate Material on the Internet: Summary of a Workshop.
SOCIAL AND EDUCATIONAL STRATEGIES 249 ented materials are produced and consumed may be of some assistance in helping to "inoculate" these youth to some of the effects of such materials. As with much education, information and media literacy is likely pursued best in a one-on-one context. By talking to a student searching for information on a particular topic, adults can teach him or her effective search strategies for such information. Once a number of sources are found, talking to the student about how to evaluate those sources can help to develop critical thinking skills. Of course, one-on-one interaction is also labor-intensive, and a one-on-one format is less feasible in situa- tions in which many students must be served. In such situations, group and in-class instruction can also be helpful. For application in a mass education environment, a variety of schools have adopted educational standards that address certain information and media literacy skills. For example, the state of Wisconsin has adopted learning standards that call for fourth graders to be able to use Web sites that have been preselected and bookmarked by the teacher, eighth grad- ers to know effective search strategies, and twelfth graders to be able to evaluate Internet content for validity and reliability as well as to assess the search engines for effectiveness and the way in which they return information.33 10.8.3 Collateral Issues Internet safety education and information and media literacy can be regarded as elements of a comprehensive approach to education in which the use of technology is fully integrated with pedagogical goals. A1- though a full discussion of education that is well integrated with technol- ogy is beyond the scope of this report, the following points are worth consideration: · Internet safety is only one dimension of productive and appropri- ate use of the Internet. It is also a dimension of appropriate use that young people learn not to use the Internet for socially detrimental and/or illegal purposes. For example, harassment conducted online is no less serious than harassment conducted offline. The use of a computer to penetrate another computer, even if that second computer has weak se- curity, is analogous to walking into someone else's house without per- mission, even if the door is unlocked. In short, responsibility is also an important dimension of one's Internet use. . . ~ ~ . 33see .
250 YOUTH, PORNOGRAPHY, AND THE INTERNET · Professional development for educators using the Internet is im- portant and must go beyond the mere mechanics of how to use a search engine and how to send e-mail. That is, educators must learn how the Internet can support pedagogical objectives as well as how to teach In- ternet safety.34 Both pre-service and in-service teacher training is thus called for. · Ethical and legal behavior on the Internet and in using technology is a part of the technology education standards developed by the Interna- tional Society for Technology in Education for students, teachers, and administrators.35 To the extent that technology education becomes an important part of K-12 education, issues related to ethical and legal be- havior will have to be addressed. · To integrate technology into schools, an adequate technology in- frastructure is necessary. For a variety of reasons, today's information technology is not well adapted to the needs of K-12 education. Develop- ing a generation of information technology adapted for the special needs of schools is the focus of a National Research Council project in progress as this book goes to press.36 10.9 COMPELLING AND SAFE CONTENT In various site visits, teachers reported to the committee that their most effective strategy for dissuading students from engaging in inappropriate activities on the Internet was to keep students "on task" focused on activi- ties relevant to the educational task at hand. Often, teachers prepared for a class by compiling a list of helpful Web sites appropriate for that class. Such a list, combined with restrictions on the amount of time students were allowed to use school Internet facilities, resulted in "students not having time to get into trouble," according to these teachers. A generalization of this strategy would call for the creation of Internet content that is compelling and educational for young people, so compel- ling that they are less inclined to spend their time searching for inappro- priate material or engaging in inappropriate or unsafe activities. Material that is productive, stimulating, and developmentally beneficial could in- clude more Web sites devoted to sexual health and education so that 34For example, the CyberSmart! program is a professionally developed curriculum for K- 8 students and supports teachers in educational efforts to introduce responsible and effec- tive Internet use. For more information see . 35see . 36see for information on the NRC project on improving learning with information technology.
SOCIAL AND EDUCATIONAL STRATEGIES 251 curious adolescents could obtain reliable information on sexuality rather than, or at least before, finding sexually explicit material that lacks infor- mation or that depicts unprotected sex or other unsafe sexual practices. An analogy can be drawn to the development of high-quality televi- sion programming for children. An example of commercially supported programming in this domain is Nickir, a component of the Nickelodeon network's programming. NickJr is supported by advertising revenues and is popular among its target audience,37 suggesting that high-quality television programs can be of interest and of educational value to some children, that associated Web sites that support these messages may be equally valuable for their development, and that this kind of program- ming can be viable in the commercial marketplace. Note also that the Nickir Web site also has quality software, derived from its TV program- ming, that is oriented toward preschool-aged children. On the other hand, commercial sources of content depend on a finan- cial base that relies almost exclusively on ratings, which implies that their content must be oriented toward mass markets (for example, their content is more commonly "action-oriented" with more violent material that more easily draws an audience, and cannot economically be tailored to niche markets). Further, because the production and airing of commercial ma- terial are often subsidized by getting children to buy products, it is gener- ally less expensive to develop child-oriented commercial material; chil- dren also like a flow back and forth between television and online content, giving commercial content a further appeal. Major commercial sources have the resources to experiment with different approaches to their online offerings, an important characteristic in a new environment in which suc- cessful formulas for engaging children with healthy Web content are largely unknown. From their physical-world presence, they also have brand recognition (e.g., Disney, Nickelodeon, and Sesame Street) that enables many parents to trust the content they provide. Because non-commercial sources do not rely on mass markets for financial viability, they can execute more readily on their mandate to educate. For example, the content of non-commercial programming can be tailored more finely to smaller age-appropriate ranges, or to topics and approaches that are more highly specialized. While non-commercial pro- gramming does not in general have the mass market appeal of much commercial programming, the availability of non-commercial program- ming would tap into the needs of a number of smaller markets, poten- tially meeting demand that is not manifested in a commercial environ- 37Sandra Calvert et aL 2001. '~Children~s Online Reports About Educational and Infor- mational Television Programs,,, Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology 22~1~: 103-117.
252 YOUTH, PORNOGRAPHY, AND THE INTERNET meet. The committee also believes that the presence of non-commercial sources such as PBS changes the environment for commercial providers by creating greater incentives for commercial providers to do more inter- esting and creative programming and raising the standard of quality. (This change in the environment is at least as important as the quality programming for which it is directly responsible.) Box 10.7 describes some possible non-commercial content developers. In the Internet arena, Yahooligans is a Yahoo-sponsored "kids area" with sections on sports, news, jokes, games, chat, bulletin board postings, and online special-interest clubs. It also provides resources for education (oriented toward school work), sports, computers, and entertainment, as well as information for parents, teachers, and children for Internet safety. The theory is that young people would choose to go to these sites and portals voluntarily, which in turn would keep them away from adult material. The approach of creating content that specifically appeals to children has a number of benefits. One major appeal is that the evaluation of educational Web sites is more feasible than trying to evaluate online con- tent as a whole. Because the volume of material to be evaluated is so much smaller, considerable effort (hours rather than seconds) can be expended
SOCIAL AND EDUCATIONAL STRATEGIES 253 to produce an evaluation that is thorough, rigorous, feasible, and can grapple with the extent to which a site is developmentally appropriate, relevant to young people's needs and interests, and user-friendly.38 In addition, the availability of good Web sites that attract the attention and interest of young people relieves to some extent the burden on parents to provide direction. These educational Web sites could also include infor- mation on online safety as well as other educational content. Good content can also draw on a scientific understanding of the de- velopmental needs and milestones of children in cognitive, social, emo- tional, and moral dimensions. For example, based on such research, schools in Wisconsin have developed Internet-related educational objec- tives that students must meet by the end of certain years and that teach skills such as effective searching and how to evaluate online content for truthfulness and validity. It appears to be quite difficult, however, to find business models that can independently support the development of such content for the Inter- net. One of the ironies of the Internet is that adult entertainment is one of the very few businesses that have been able to make a profit on the Inter- net, while markets for high-quality Internet content for children languish. Experience in the wake of the dot-coin meltdown illustrates that building any Internet-based business is difficult, but it appears to be especially difficult to create good offerings for children. Some of the key challenges include: · Limited bandwidth. Even et broadband speeds, most children find content coming over the Internet frustrating. (Adults do as well.) Video or animation, especially over a dial-up connection, can be quite jerky, making it virtually unmatchable by many children. Furthermore, other media such as TV, video games, and PC-based software offer content that tends to be much more matchable, and the instant response that these other media offer places Internet content at a significant disadvantage. Content can be designed to work well over the Internet. Nevertheless, it is likely that content creators will be making creative sacrifices in order to 38In the committee's December 2000 workshop, Sarah Keller described the evaluation process of the ASHA Web site, , a project in which she is cur- rently involved. This process began with a content analysis that compares the information available on the site to the recommendations established by the Sexual Information and Education Council, SIECUS, a recognized authority on sex education. The analysis was used to create an online survey to measure the site's impact on teen knowledge, attitudes, and intended behaviors. The site was evaluated using the American Library Association's recommendations on navigability, accuracy, authority, currency, and objectivity (see ~.
254 YOUTH, PORNOGRAPHY, AND THE INTERNET obtain viewability placing such content at a disadvantage with respect to content carried in other media. · Privacy concerns. Online businesses that are directed at children must comply with a variety of regulations emanating from the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). While such regulations have benefits, COPPA has also imposed costs on such businesses that they did not previously incur,39 and it is likely that the added costs of complying with COPPA have increased the operating burden felt by some develop- ers of material for younger children and resulted in a smaller volume of such material. · Safety concerns. The newness of the Internet and the media public- ity regarding untoward Internet experiences (e.g., abductions resulting from Internet-enabled interactions) have made many parents fearful of allowing their younger children on the Internet. · Financing. Even in the high-flying days of venture capital, it was hard to develop plausible business models for how an Internet service oriented toward children would eventually be profitable. Advertisers are often uninterested in targeting children online, and Web sites that offer traffic that consists mostly of children are not in high demand. Finally, creating compelling and safe content de nova is not the only way to assemble collections of such material. Portals and Web sites that lead to developmentally appropriate, educational, and enjoyable material on a broad range of appealing topics (not just sex and sex education) would help to keep young people away from inappropriate sexually ex- plicit material (as well as other types of inappropriate material) by pro- viding a venue that children preferred. Lists of appropriate Web sites suitable for classroom or in-home use are a "poor-man's" analog to these kinds of portal teachers and/or parents can create lists of interesting and appropriate Web sites for easy browser access by bookmarking them, and even a list of such sites on paper would be helpful in many circum- stances. Also, school districts and libraries are creating portals to educa- tionally oriented Web sites to help students do their work. 10.10 PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENTS AND MEDIA CAMPAIGNS Because many adults do not know much about the need for Internet safety, or about the nature and extent of dangers on the Internet, they 39For example, COPPA requires a parent to send a note through the postal service or to fax a form to document parental permission for answering questions that ask for personal information, both of which are time-consuming, inefficient, and costly to process.
SOCIAL AND EDUCATIONAL STRATEGIES 255 often do not know what they do not know. Thus, they can be complacent and do nothing about protecting their children on the Internet, or they can exaggerate the dangers, believing from media scare stories that "pornog- raphy" and sexual predators on the Internet are as ubiquitous as commer- cials on television or radio. By themselves, public service announcements (PSAs) and media cam- paigns cannot provide comprehensive education about complex topics. However, they are ideal for relatively simple messages. For example, the late 1980s saw a major public awareness campaign offering the message, "It's ten o'clock. Do you know where your kids are?" A similar campaign today for Internet safety might offer a message like, "What did your kids do online today?," or "You, too, can learn about protecting your kids on the Internet!" or "Would you let a stranger in your child's bedroom?" to encourage the placement of computers in public parts of the home. Since the mid 1990s, a number of concerned companies in the Internet publishing industry have sought to demonstrate their interest in educat- ing the public at large about the dangers that the Internet can present to children. These industry-sponsored self-policing programs include Amer- icaLinksUp, which ran roughly from December 1997 to October 1998, and GetNetWise, which started in the spring of 1999 and still exists today. AmericaLinksUp was spawned by the Internet Online Summit: Focus on Children held in Washington, D.C., in December 1997. The conference consisted of a day of Clinton Administration, congressional, and Internet industry leaders speaking to the importance of establishing a public-pri- vate partnership to protect the public interest and obviate the need for introducing legislation to regulate the Internet. One of the outcomes was AmericaLinksUp, which was funded primarily by several major media companies, including AOL, Time Warner, and the Walt Disney Com- pany, to demonstrate corporate commitment to raising public awareness about the importance of parents monitoring their children's activities on the Web and of children being aware of the dangers that can be encoun- tered when surfing the Web. AmericaLinksUp created television and radio PSA spots that were designed to target parents and children as separate demographic groups. ABC Television Network, ABC Radio Net- work, Turner Broadcasting System, and Lifetime Television all provided air time pro bono during August and September of 1998 to broadcast these PSAs. Despite the fact that the PSAs were very emotionally evoca- tive, AmericaLinksUp most likely had minimal impact due to the limited nature of any media campaign that has virtually no media budget. Operated under the auspices of the non-profit Internet Education Foundation, GetNetWise was in many ways the successor to America- LinksUp, and is supported by a wide range of Internet-related corpora- tions and public service organizations. GetNetWise had a larger agenda than simply promulgating children's safety on the Internet; it extended to
256 YOUTH, PORNOGRAPHY, AND THE INTERNET promoting how families could enjoy the Internet together, as well. Get- NetWise launched a major Web site designed to be the focal point on the Web for all Internet public interest information. GetNetWise.org still is in operation today, although the initial publicity campaign surrounding its launch in mid-l999 has diminished, as has awareness of the initiative. Overall, despite the significant amount of energy and resources ex- pended to produce the PSAs for AmericaLinksUp and to launch the Web site and public relations campaign for GetNetWise, there is little evidence that either of these industry initiatives has had a major impact on dimin- ishing the safety problems presented by the Internet for children. If any conclusion can be drawn from the programs, it is that, while they do offer value (although that is difficult to measure) by raising people's aware- ness, it is difficult to sustain interest among industry participants over any extended period of time. For such campaigns to be most effective, companies must believe it is in their commercial interest to finance them (i.e., there must be a threat of some harm, such as potential governmental regulation or loss of revenues, or some promise of benefit, such as greater public awareness of their concerns for the welfare of children). To truly make a difference, public awareness campaigns must be funded on an ongoing basis and be part of a multifaceted umbrella program that makes Internet safety the responsibility of all key stakeholders in promoting children's safety on the Internet. Another possibility is that strategies, along the lines of current cam- paigns to discourage drug and tobacco use among children, could be designed to discourage children from seeking out sexually explicit mate- rials. Such strategies are likely to be controversial, in the sense that they would call public attention to sexually explicit materials. Moreover, most of the literature suggests that health communication campaigns, such as anti-smoking and anti-drug media campaigns, are least effective when they are not conducted in concert and coordination with appropriate com- munity-based supports.40 10.11 FINDINGS AND OBSERVATIONS ABOUT SOCIAL AND EDUCATIONAL STRATEGIES 1. Social and educational strategies directly address the nurturing of character and the development of responsible choice. Because such strat- egies locate control in the hands of the youth targeted children mav make 40Thomas E. Backer and Everett M. Rogers, eds. 1993. Organizational Aspects of Health Communication Campaigns: What Works?, Sage, Newbury Park, Calif.
SOCIAL AND EDUCATIONAL STRATEGIES 257 mistakes as they learn to internalize the object of these lessons. But ex- plaining why certain actions were mistaken will help children to learn the lessons that parents and other adults hope that they will learn. 2. Though education is difficult and time-consuming, many aspects of Internet safety education have been successful in the past several years. While it is true that Internet safety education, acceptable use policies, and even parental guidance and counseling are unlikely to change the desire of many adolescent boys to seek out sexually explicit materials, parents are more aware of some of the other dangers (such as meeting strangers face-to-face) and know more about how to protect their kids then ever before. (This is true even though more needs to be done in this area.) Children are better educated about how to sense whether the person on the other end of an instant message is "for real." Many of them have developed strategies for coping, and children with such strategies in- creasingly understand the rules of the game better than many parents. Little of this was true 5 years ago. 3. Social and educational strategies are generally not inexpensive, and they require tending and implementation. Adults must be taught to teach children how to make good choices in this area. They must be willing to engage in sometimes-difficult conversations. And, social and educational strategies do not provide a quick fix with a high degree of immediate protection. Nevertheless, they are the only approach through which ethics of responsible behavior can be cultivated and ways of cop- ing with inappropriate material and experiences taught. 4. Social and educational strategies have relevance and applicability far beyond the limited question of "protecting kids from porn on the Internet." For example, social and educational strategies are relevant to teaching children to: · Think critically about all kinds of media messages, including those associated with hate, racism, senseless violence, and so on; · Conduct effective Internet searches for information and navigate with confidence; · Evaluate the credibility and motivation of the sources of the mes- sages that they receive; · Better recognize dangerous situations on the Internet; · Make ethical and responsible choices about Internet behavior- and about non-Internet behavior as well; and · Cope better with exposure to upsetting and disturbing experiences and material found on the Internet.
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Representative terms from entire chapter: