“Education is at the heart of ensuring that students remain safe online and understand appropriate netiquette,” said Keith Krueger, CEO of the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN). “Quite simply, we need to make the child the filter, not rely solely on technological protection measures [such as] blocking and filtering. We know that students have always found ways around the best constructed fences created by adults.”
Krueger said CoSN strongly supports the Broadband Data Improvement Act, recently enacted federal legislation that requires all schools receiving e-Rate support to educate their students about appropriate online behavior. In November, the Federal Communications Commission proposed new rules that say e-Rate applicants would have to submit proof that they’ve implemented an internet safety education program in order to receive funding.
“We believe that these new e-Rate requirements will have a major effect on student safety once the FCC implements them, something that will happen in the next year. That said, we clearly have a long way to go [toward] educating our kids, as well as educators, around online safety and security,” Krueger said.
He added: “It is interesting to note the disconnect between teachers, who mostly believe it is parental responsibility to teach cyber ethics, and administrators, who mostly believe it is a school responsibility. Most likely, teachers feel unprepared to provide that education. That is something we need to correct.”
“While federal mandates tied to e-Rate funding, such as the Broadband Act—coupled with some state legislative efforts and inclusion of technology standards in many state curricula—have begun to create a framework for change on these issues, [the survey] results point to only small gains in the right direction,” said Davina Pruitt-Mentle, executive director of ETPRO.
Teaching cyber ethics, safety, and security is increasingly important, NCSA said. Students between the ages of 8 and 18 consume up to 7.5 hours of electronic content per day, according to a recent Kaiser Family Foundation study. The KFF study also found that children spend nearly two hours a day sending or receiving messages through electronic devices.
The NCSA poll was conducted between Dec. 29 and Jan. 11. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.2 percentage points.