What started all this online activity? It was in 1990 that Tim Berners-Lee at CERN Switzerland designed the first World Wide Web tool to organize and navigate the Internet. This tool was developed in a way to make information easily accessible and available to the public in homes, offices—literally anywhere. The code was initially called Hypertext. It was later marketed in 1992. Eventually, it was renamed Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP). The development allowed users from all over the world to communicate with each other using a web browser. In 1994, Netscape Communicator released its browser, and in 1995, Microsoft officially released Internet Explorer (IE).
|Sir Tim Berners-Lee is the creator of the World Wide Web. His creation extends into every walk of life.|
Recently, Microsoft celebrated Internet Explorer’s 25th anniversary. This classic, ever-popular browser has been around since 1991. The story goes that Tim Berners-Lee posted a basic text page with hyperlinked words that connected to other pages on his first website. He nicknamed his website tool “information management,” which seemed appropriate at the time.
In today’s digital world, we can view information as managing us, not us managing the computer. Digital information tells us what to do, how to do it, when to do it, and it even gives us specific examples through text and video. It’s a benefit for children to understand how everything works, but at the same time, there are real dangers in cyberland.
Here is a list of online children safety issues associated with technology:
1) Indecent Exposure to Inappropriate Material. It’s often said that pornography was the only financial success in the beginnings of the Internet. That may be true. But it’s easy for a child to Google any body part, whether clothed or not, and see results. This raises the issue of indecency and inappropriate material first-hand, but First Amendment rights keep that information available to the public. All Internet material is not good material.
2) Technology and Internet Addiction. Some studies report that children spend up to 8 hours a day using some form of technology, whether it’s the Internet, gaming, texting, or emailing. This is creating a void in their social skills, and also increasing their rate of suicide due to depression and personal insecurities.
3) Cyberbullying. Because the Internet is a “faceless entity,” children suffer the most in this category. Even the power of social media giants like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram can foster cyberbullying activities and behaviors far beyond the classroom. Children don’t even need an account to be bullied; they would hear about it from other sources, leaving them to deal with these problems on their own.
4) Privacy. Let’s put it all in perspective: Our private lives are no more. It’s all gone. Billy Graham once said, “Once you've lost your privacy, you realize you've lost an extremely valuable thing.” Children are coming to the realization that there is an enormous amount of private information posted about them in digital form. Some part of their lives will be collected, stored, analyzed, and even studied—thus building a digital footprint of information about them that will stay forever in cyberland for others to read and judge.
5) Access to Drugs, Alcohol and Tobacco. Children don’t need to go to the corner store to get drugs, alcohol or tobacco like in the past. The Internet provides access to not only the substances themselves, but the knowledge to make them. With the rise of opioids like Morphine, Tramadol, Oxycodone, and Fentanyl, the making of these drugs are as easy as Googling the drug name on a smartphone in a classroom.
Overall, our children need to be educated, monitored, and guided through their use of the Internet from childhood through adulthood. A constant ongoing dialogue will make technology more safe and open to them. They don’t need to be restricted, but rather informed about the real dangers, because we want all children to be skilled users of technology. If we limit them, they will build a life around technology that consists of inappropriate behaviors, hostility, co-dependence, and abuse behind closed doors.
Online safety. It’s something all children should know about.
Author's Note: Child safety is something that's gaining more national attention through behavioral acts of cyberbullying. It's far-reaching effects can demoralize a person's character, good will, and overall confidence, causing many young people to make a rather adult choice in learning to live with false information or fake statements on the web or to fall into a deep depression that, in most cases, leads to suicidal tendencies. How do we really protect them from the dangers of the Internet? You cannot unplug it and put it away like a video game. It's a way of life for billions and billions of people. Children need to develop a healthy relationship with technology, and they need to nurture this relationship throughout their lives in a skillful, natural manner. If you limit children and deny them this relationship with technology, the outcome will be catastrophic, filled with inappropriate behaviors that will lead some to the darker side of the Internet. Our children deserve a positive dialogue about technology to learn, thrive, and be successful in life.
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