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Readings and Links


Resources for Parents

PBS Parents Guide: Children and Media
Practical advice for parents divided by media -- computers, TV, movies, video games and advertising -- and age -- pre-school, grade school, pre-teens and teens. Web-specific highlights include an article about teens and the Web and an instant messenger and text message glossary.
Calling themselves the world's oldest and largest online safety organization, Parry Aftab and her team of volunteers educate kids and teens, parents and schools about online safety; provide information on such topics as social networking, cyberbullying and child pornography; and operate a live chat where users can report cybercrimes and receive counseling. Of particular use to parents is Aftab's "Internet 101" page: Check out the right-hand sidebar for a numbers of tools -- like the instant message acronym translator -- to help you navigate your kids' online world.
Journalist Anne Collier regularly updates this blog with news and commentary about kids, technology and Internet safety such as this analysis of MySpace's January 2008 agreement with state attorneys general on Internet safety. Collier also runs, which provides tips on Internet and cell phone safety, articles by Internet safety experts, and a forum where parents can swap questions and advice.
This site, maintained by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children provides videos and multimedia tools designed to educate parents, teachers and law enforcement about online safety and cybercrime. It also features a kids page with games and activities. Chat with staff at the NetSmartz411 page, or report a cybercrime through the center's online tipline. The Center also publishes, with the National Education Association, a bimonthly newsletter on internet safety; the current issue covers cyberbullying.


Studies, Surveys and Research

University of New Hampshire Crimes Against Children Research Center
The center led by Dr. David Finkelhor has conducted two studies of child victimization online. The first (PDF file), from 2000, found that one in five children had received unwanted online sexual solicitations. The second (PDF file), published in 2006, found that the rate had decreased to one in seven. The center also offers a set of factsheets summarizing the findings of its research projects.


Digital Youth Research
Based at the University of Southern California and the University of California, Berkeley, the Digital Youth Research project supports the work of scholars like Danah Boyd and C.J. Pascoe examining how teens are shaping -- and being shaped by -- the Internet and other digital media. Read about the project's wide range of research topics, from pro-anorexia Web sites to teen-produced hip hop music, and read excerpts from the resulting publications.


Pew Internet & American Life Project
An initiative of the Pew Research Center, the project "produces reports that explore the impact of the internet on families, communities, work and home, daily life, education, health care, and civic and political life." Visit the reports and latest trends pages to read up-to-date information on topics ranging from teens and social media to the huge popularity of video-sharing Web sites.


Digital Natives
Wiki page for a team of academics, including Danah Boyd, researching the generation gap between those born with digital technology and those not. Features an "Introduction to the Lives of Digital Natives" and links to related research projects. The group also maintains a blog tracking the latest news on young people and technology.


Enhancing Child Safety & Online Technologies
This final report of the task force assembled by state attorneys general to study internet safety found that bullying and harrassment, not online predators, "are the most frequent threats that minors face, both online and offline." (Dec. 31, 2008)


The Internet and Education

The media-rich Web site of The George Lucas Educational Foundation advocates project-based learning and technology integration similar to the measures favored by Chatham High School social studies teacher Steve Maher. Features include an extensive video archive, instructional modules for teachers and content from the organization's eponymous print magazine.
A plagiarism "learning center" published by the makers of Turnitin, the commercial software used by Chatham High School to detect plagiarism in students' papers. The site offers answers to frequently asked questions about plagiarism and explains how the company's technology works. For more resources on plagiarism, visit this Google directory, which includes a disclaimer about the issue from the popular student guide company SparkNotes.


Seeing No Progress, Some Schools Drop Laptops
A May 2007 New York Times report from Liverpool, N.Y., where the school district discontinued its program of distributing laptops to students. Such "one-to-one computing" initiatives, meant "to prepare their students for a technology-driven world and close the so-called digital divide between students who had computers at home and those who did not," were adopted by school districts nationwide after Maine's flagship statewide initiative began in 2002. But many schools have discovered that the computers "had been abused by students, did not fit into lesson plans, and showed little, if any, measurable effect on grades and test scores." Meanwhile, Maine has continued its program, and a 2007 University of Maine study (PDF file) showed some improvement in the writing skills of students who used laptops.


News Articles

MySpace Agrees to Social-Networking Safety Plan social networking blogger Caroline McCarthy covers the Jan. 14, 2008 agreement between MySpace and 49 state attorneys general to improve safety on the site. For more on the agreement, see FRONTLINE's summary of Internet regulations to safeguard kids. Not everyone is impressed with the agreement, however; Texas' attorney general refused to sign on, and just days after the agreement, reported on a serious bug on MySpace that allows anyone online to see even "private" members' photos.


The Face Behind Facebook
Lesley Stahl interviews Mark Zuckerberg, the 23-year-old CEO of Facebook, for the Jan. 13, 2008 edition of 60 Minutes. Stahl asks Zuckerberg about Facebook's now-discontinued Beacon application, which tracked what members bought online and notified their friends as a form of advertising -- all without members' permission. Watch the entire segment and outtakes. For longer but less-recent print profiles of Zuckerberg and Facebook, check out Wired and The New Yorker.


Friend Game
Lauren Collins covers the disturbing suicide of Megan Meier for the Jan. 21, 2008 edition of The New Yorker. Megan, 13, killed herself after being cyberbullied by "Josh," a MySpace friend who turned out to be the creation of her neighbors. Collins summarizes the events leading up to Megan's death, and the ensuing public outcry. Elsewhere online, covers the Meiers' hometown's decision to make cyberstalking a misdemeanor, while a California grand jury has begun investigating whether Megan's online antagonists defrauded MySpace with their hoax.


In Korea, A Boot Camp Cure for Web Obsession
New York Times reporter Martin Fackler visits Jump Up Internet Rescue School, a South Korean facility -- "part boot camp, part rehab center" -- which aims to cure youngsters of their addictions to cyberspace. Accompanying the article is a slide show of photos of the camp, and of South Korea's near-ubiquitous "PC bang" Internet cafes. South Korea is not the only Asian country treating Internet addiction; earlier in 2007, the Washington Post reported from an Internet addiction treatment center in China that favors "a tough-love approach that includes counseling, military discipline, drugs, hypnosis and mild electric shocks."

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posted january 22, 2008

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