In the spring of 2007 The Cyber Safety and Ethics Initiative (CSEI) and the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) initiated the world’s largest cyber research project, which by January of 2008 involved surveying 40,000+ K-12th grade students along with hundreds of parents and teachers.
Here are some of the key findings among students, parents and educators:
Key student findings:
- Children have unsupervised access to a computer and the internet at home as early as age 5, and that by age 7, 15% report that someone was mean to them online, while 7% admit they have been mean to someone online;
- Contrary to public perception, the majority of cyber offenses involving children, t/weens, teens and young adults are perpetuated by their peers, not strangers;
- The onset of cyber bullying beginning in the second grade and it’s not always the adult predator. Reports show that 45% of the cases are friends victimizing friends.
- 23.2% admit to lying about their age online;
- 1 in 4 children between the ages 9-18 report that they have been victimized online by one or more forms of abuse within the past school year that was not reported to a grown up.
Key parent survey findings:
- 90% of surveyed parents report supervising the home computing activities of their children;
- 14% report they have caught their children visiting inappropriate websites;
- 61% parents report that their children access the web from a private place in the home;
- A majority of parents report that their children use the web to do research for school (78%), play video games (61%) and listening to music or watching movies (50%);
Key Teacher Survey Findings:
- Teachers report that they feel confident that their schools are well prepared to use technology to facilitate student learning;
- However, few teachers feel prepared or feel they are prepared to teach students about Internet safety, social computing ethics or digital literacy;
- Teachers report that there is a lack of or inconsistent professional development and/or training on information security, social computing and web safety;
- Educators are divided on the issue of using technology in the classroom and whether or not students know more about information technology than they do.
Overall, it looks like parents are doing a good job of keeping an eye on their kids and what they are doing on the Internet. That said, most safety experts recommend that kids use the computer and surf the web from public areas of their home.
While the good news is that the stereotype of the Dateline NBC-esque sexual predator is far from reality, the bad news is that students are being bullied online by their peers. This is a topic that should be addressed both at school by teachers and at home by parents.
In summer 2008, as part of the Yahoo! Teachers Tour, I had the opportunity with my colleague Karon Weber to lead workshops across the country and teach educators how to use web and social computing technologies in their classroom. Time and time again we heard from teachers that this was exactly the type of professional development that was sorely needed.
Moreover, they reported that they were lacking hands-on, practical training on how web and social computing can be used in the classroom to prepare educators for the influx of digital learners filling their classrooms.
You can review the entire findings of the RIT CyberSafety report, including results broken down by grade level, by clicking here (pdf).