digital nation - life on the virtual frontier


At an age when American children are just starting to learn arithmetic and writing, Korean schoolchildren are already mastering "netiquette."

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As South Korea approaches nearly universal Internet access (currently 97 percent household broadband penetration), it has enacted new laws and established initiatives to ensure that young Koreans grow up to be well-mannered citizens of the cyberworld:

  • National ethics textbooks for second-graders and up include lessons on Internet etiquette, or "netiquette." Korean schools have 15 textbooks that cover netiquette issues, including computer addiction prevention.
  • Netiquette classes stress positive values, such as respect for online friends and politeness. They also aim to combat cyberbullying and online slander.
  • In response to the suicides of several celebrities who were the targets of negative online messages, Professor Min Byoung-chul of Chung-Ang University founded the Sunfull Movement, an organization that teaches positive cybermessaging. Many Korean elementary and secondary schools have joined the Sunfull program.
  • To combat cyberbullying, a 2007 law requires posters to popular Web sites and portals to submit their real names and residence registration numbers before posting comments.
  • The identity-checking system affects roughly 75 percent of Korean Web users. Critics argue that it curtails rights to free speech and anonymity on the Internet, and that it has not been proven necessary or effective.


posted February 2, 2010

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