Internet Safety and the Future Generation
Developing computer skills is vital for today's children. Computers have become an important means for communication, play an important role in nearly every job, and can enhance both education and general quality of life (Rupley, 2004). The difficulty with children using the computer is that some people online may use computers to gain access to children for inappropriate and even criminal reasons. Children, by their nature, will not have the skills on their own to avoid the dangers that can come with internet access, so it is up to parents and educators both to protect children and to teach them how to keep themselves safe online. The risks to children are very real. The FBI reports that one in five children receive pornography or are solicited by sexual predators online at some point (McKinley, 2002). By the time they are teenagers; one in four has been contacted by strangers who want to meet them in real life (Rupley, 2004). Since the Internet is now used more than the telephone, and since most children are not supervised all the time they are online (McKinley, 2002), predators attempt to exploit their vulnerability. Very often the children and teens, underestimating the risk, unaware of the risk, or believing that they can avoid being victimized, get online while they are supposed to be asleep. They may talk with strangers as well as people they know (Rupley, 2004). Whether the predators seek to sell pornography or to meet in person, they are all too often successful. In 2003, John Zuccarini pled guilty under the federal "Truth in Domain Names Act." Using over 3,000 domain names that mimicked TV shows youth often watch, such as www.teltubbies.com, he misdirected children to sites containing hard-core pornography (Rupley, 2004). In a more disturbing case, in 2001 a 13-year old girl left to meet her online "boyfriend" at a local fast-food restaurant. He was actually a 25 year old man, and he killed her (McKinley,...
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