Background | Ophea Teaching Tools

    Background

    While the online world can be a very exciting and informative place for students, both in school and during leisure time, the Internet can also be a potentially risky environment. 

    We often aren’t fully aware of the possible dangers associated with the online world until the consequences of high-risk online behaviour are revealed.

    Why should educators and parents be concerned?

    • The risk of online sexual exploitation.
    • Child predators search social networking, gaming and chat sites to gain the trust and confidence of their victims. The nature of the Internet permits deception about a predator’s intentions.
    • Online harassment and bullying (also known as cyberbullying).
    • 24% of young Internet users report being cyberbullied. Research shows that online bullying is even less likely to be reported by the victim than traditional bullying.
    • Access to inappropriate photos and videos.
    • Excessive time spent surfing the Internet, on social networking sites and playing video games.
    • Children and youth think they know how to be safe online but don’t always apply safe practices. It often takes a serious event that risks personal safety before appropriate safe practices are applied.

    A recent study1 indicated the following online activities of children and youth:

    • 99% of Canadian youth have access to the Internet outside of school
    • 49% of students in Grade 4 have access to the Internet through their own phone or someone else’s phone on a regular basis. 
    • 49% of students use the Internet to follow news and current events
    • 78% of  students use the Internet to find information about news, health issues or relationships
    • Close to a third of students have gone online to ask an expert or other kids for advice about personal problems. 
    • Almost one-third of students in grades 4-6 have a Facebook account, in spite of its terms of use agreement that bars children under the age of 13 from using the site. 
    • 16% of students in grades 4-6 also have Twitter accounts, which have similar age restrictions as Facebook. 

    1MediaSmarts, (2013). Young Canadians in a Wired World - Phase III: Life OnlineRetrieved from http://mediasmarts.ca/ycww/life-online