Original article appeared at:
As more families go
online, becoming cyber-street-smart is key
by Jon Halpin
Originally published in the June 1999 issue
Giving children a solid foundation of the traditional
basics--reading, writing, and arithmetic--may have been
sufficient in the past. But now as more families go
online, the scope must be expanded to include the basics
of using a computer and navigating the Internet.
According to a new study by Forrester Research, there
is a rise in online use among minorities as well, due in
large part to increased Internet access in schools. (The
drop in cost for PCs and Internet access has also played
a role.) A study of 96,000 households found that online
presence is highest for Asian-Americans, at 64 percent.
But African-American access is expected to rise to 42
percent this year, meaning that 40 percent of African-American
households will be online, and Hispanic-American access
is expected to rise to 20 percent, meaning that 43
percent will be online.
While the government and some companies propose that
content regulation through legislation or filtering
technology is enough, organizations like I-Safe America
and Legal Pad Enterprises (www.legalpadjr.com/isafe)
believe that a broader educational approach is a more
immediate and effective solution. Proper Internet use
goes beyond protecting children's eyes from pornographic
images and their identities from stalkers and flaming. It
means developing a "cyber-street-smart"
attitude so that they get the best of what the Internet
has to offer.
I-Safe America has teamed with The Pixel Co., a 3-D
interface design company (www.myspaceonline.com),
to teach families to "drive defensively on the Web"
by hosting a Cyber Grand Prix. Participants will learn
the importance of safety awareness, netiquette, search
methods, and becoming responsible cyber citizens. Kids
will be given a series of questions, based on real-life
events, and then are expected to provide answers to how
they would respond to these scenarios.
The Cyber Grand Prix will use Pixel's MySpace Online
visual 3-D interface, which is essentially a 3-D Internet
city. Users can explore a virtual planet outpost that
includes a 90-block city, where neighborhoods and
districts represent different topics. According to Pixel,
each city block offers a graphical representation of Web
sites with links to more than 600 places on the Web.
Likewise, the Southeastern Software Association (SSA)
and the Software Society of the Technology Alliance of
Georgia (TAG) will host WebChallenge 99, a Web-site-design
competition for Georgia high school students. The
competition provides actual experience, incentive for
students to get involved with technology, and a chance to
interact with potential employers. It will be expanded to
other states next year. To participate in WebChallenge,
schools must assemble teams of students, a faculty
advisor, and obtain registration forms at www.webchallenge.org.