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.
- 16% of students in grades 4-6 also have Twitter accounts, which have similar age restrictions as Facebook.