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Virginia Becomes First State to Mandate Internet Safety Lessons 262

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the nanny-state dept.
kaufmanmoore writes "The Commonwealth of Virginia has become the first state in the nation to require that students in all grade levels receive a form of internet safety lessons. The story is scant on details about the lessons, but describes one recently at a high school where the presenter showed a social-networking profile of a convicted sex offender posing as a 15 year-old girl. "
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Virginia Becomes First State to Mandate Internet Safety Lessons

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  • by gnick (1211984) on Monday April 07, 2008 @07:11PM (#22994706) Homepage
    This is a fine idea - The internet is a treacherous place for children.

    But I'd rather see mandatory parenting.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by webmaster404 (1148909)
      Not really....

      A) Realize that no matter how much you warn them of the "dangers" of the Internet, kids will still get on it
      B) Realize that many teenagers will rebel and still get on
      C) Realize that by teaching ways that predators will stalk them, they will think they are safe if they don't have those
      D) And lastly, realize that this opens up an avenue for propaganda by MS and the *AA to try to squash innovation by spreading FUD with how "pirated" things always has viruses and can lead to identity the
      • by gnick (1211984) on Monday April 07, 2008 @07:27PM (#22994854) Homepage
        I'm not "Won't someone think of the children?" apologist. But, some parents are internet-illiterate. So, what's wrong with one extra source to say "Hey - There are dangers out there. Be careful." So be it. I'd much rather see parents educate themselves, but I think that calling this a MS/**AA FUD tactic is a stretch...
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by sexconker (1179573)
          If the classes were a 1 hour session of someone saying "Hey kids, them thar internets can be dangerous. Don't go trusting people. Use common sense.", that would be fine.

          It's obviously going to a series of endless classes and fear mongering for the pedo fud machine.

          And you can't just ignore the fact that a lot of the "innocent" kids actually go out looking for trouble, either because they want att ention, hate their parents, or want to screw over some pedo.

          This is a move in the wrong direction.
          They need to
          • by Gyga (873992) on Monday April 07, 2008 @07:52PM (#22995056)
            All non-academic lessons I've taken have boiled down to that.

            Hunter saftey course (guns in general): don't be an idiot. don't point guns at people. use that organ located between your ears.
            D.A.R.E: don't do illegal drugs or alcohol, most will mess you up.
            Drivers Ed: Use common sense, follow the law, don't be reckless. (ironically nothing about actually driving)

            I guarentee this lesson will be: "Don't give out personal information. Don't post pictures. Use fake names. All men are men, all women are men, all 13 year old girls are FBI agents or Pedophiles. Don't meet with people in real life."
            • by smitty_one_each (243267) * on Monday April 07, 2008 @08:57PM (#22995516) Homepage Journal
              Have a class where the kids all get fake identities, and try to get on the network and steal the fakes from each other.
              Give the kids a lesson about phish, you bore them for a day. Teach the kids to phish, and you could educate them for a lifetime.
              • Teach the kids to phish, and you could educate them for a lifetime.

                Hmmm, sounds like a great way to pay for college!
            • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

              by Anonymous Coward

              All men are men, all women are men
              Oblig Bash [bash.org]
            • by WaltBusterkeys (1156557) on Monday April 07, 2008 @09:03PM (#22995556)
              You're right that a lot of this overlaps with the "use common sense" lessons from other contexts. But the thing is that kids really don't all have a ton of common sense. In fact, a lot of kids demonstrate shockingly little of it at times. Maybe they have it and choose not to use it, or maybe it's just not fully developed.

              It's one thing to say "don't meet strange people handing out candy." It's a good lesson and one that schools should mention since a lot of parents don't remember to. Heck, when I was in elementary school (pre-Internet) they taught us that kind of basic safety lesson.

              But not all 3rd graders will extrapolate from "don't take candy from strangers" to "don't expose yourself on a webcam for a 'girl' in another state." [reputation...erblog.com] I'm sure that any future-slashdotter would figure that one out without any help, but not all kids are above average.

              If this is really just adding lessons about Internet common-sense to lessons about real-world common-sense then it's probably on the net a good thing. Kids haven't developed their common sense yet and can easily get hurt by it.
              • by davetd02 (212006) on Monday April 07, 2008 @09:17PM (#22995644)
                But is the school the best place for that? I agree that the school has all the kids under one roof, but parents need to step up too. It cuts both ways.
                • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                  by db32 (862117)
                  The parents are most likely in the same boat of people that are getting their computers turned into zombies, having their personal information stolen, or other such problems that run rampant in the world these days.

                  Shit, it should be mandatory that the parents show up with their kids! If this was some kind of morality thing pushing one view over others it would be one thing. MANY people simply are not aware of the dangers out there. Seriously, go talk to your average joe types, many of them believe you
              • by EvolutionsPeak (913411) on Monday April 07, 2008 @10:53PM (#22996170)
                Ever consider that the reason kids have no common sense is because they are spoon fed everything they should or shouldn't do? It seems like we do everything we can to prevent young people from actually using their brains to make a decision, and then we're upset that they can't think on their own and use common sense.
              • by ceoyoyo (59147) on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @12:06AM (#22996592)
                Of course not. Common sense is the result of screwing up and managing to survive it. Kids haven't had a chance yet. Most adults today also haven't had the chance, which is why they also often demonstrate remarkably little common sense.
          • by gnick (1211984)
            TFA is scant on details, but I pictured something along the lines of D.A.R.E. You know, a couple of 1-hour sessions a year. Surely not a 5-class-a-week thing?

            (I know DARE is a lousy example - BS drug propaganda etc. But you know what I mean...)

            They need to simply ban minors from the entire internet.

            Please let that be a troll... I can't fathom how I would respond otherwise... My 3-year-old loves the internet and is a much stronger child because of it... All I need to do is stay educated and involved and things are great. But, if his junior high one day re

          • by Firethorn (177587) on Monday April 07, 2008 @10:08PM (#22995958) Homepage Journal
            If the classes were a 1 hour session of someone saying "Hey kids, them thar internets can be dangerous. Don't go trusting people. Use common sense.", that would be fine.

            Well, to be honest, as common sense isn't so common, I'd cover some specific issues, like how to recognize scams, internet predators, basic guidelines to protect your identity, and so on.

            Of course, personally I'd fold it into my idea for a 'life studies' course - no it doesn't have much to do with biology. It's simply the best name I can think of at the moment.

            Basically, it's a course designed to impart the skills generally necessary for a fulfilling life in a modern society. I started off with sex ed, gun safety, spread out to basic liability, contract and criminal law*. Not falling for scams, whether it be real world or internet. Practical budgeting, house purchase procedures, etc... In areas where it's necessary, how to properly do laundry, basic healthy cooking**. Basically, what stuff is good to know, doesn't take a whole semester or more dedicated to teaching it, and at least possibly isn't covered by existing courses, as I'm sure some rearranging could occur.

            I mean, I don't know about you guys, but while my parents covered liability and such, I didn't get much of it in school, but I see examples all the time where it would have saved a lot of money, effort, and stress if they had known a bit of it. Sure, history and geography is all to the good, but I spent months memorizing maps - so I could pass quizzes that consisted of a map with the names removed and slots to put the missing names cities, rivers and lakes in. I guarantee that I performed a brain dump after each quiz. I know where Baghdad, Tikrit, and the Tigris river is on the map more because I'm in the USAF and have to worry about it. I didn't care in High School, I knew how to read a map and index even back then.

            And that's just ONE example of courses that I feel were more or less wasted time when I was young. Especially given the easy reference and research source today - the internet. History courses are good, though I think there should be less emphasis(at least compared to my time) on names and exact dates.

            *Possibly involving carefully selected TV court cases off of shows like Judge Judy.
            **Preferably tasty, because that's the best way to get people to eat it.
        • by d34thm0nk3y (653414) on Monday April 07, 2008 @08:01PM (#22995128)
          I'm not "Won't someone think of the children? apologist."

          Nice, the article is tagged as such already.

          We are talking about schools here. We should actually think about the children in this case....
        • wrong topic (Score:5, Insightful)

          by globaljustin (574257) <<moc.liamg> <ta> <labolgnitsuj>> on Monday April 07, 2008 @08:08PM (#22995186) Homepage Journal
          Teaching kids about the internet is a great idea. Unfortunately, being aware of adults seeking to trick them into sexual situations is NOT an internet issue, it is a social issue that has basic rules that should apply to all types of communication and interaction, no matter what the channel or method of communication might be (if you don't know what the basic rules are that I speak of, then you are probably a child molester). Health class is the area to address issues of adult/child abuse.

          The real issues that teens and pre-teens need to be taught about in regards to the internet are:

          1. If you post text, a picture, or video on the internet it will be there indefinitely, and everyone will potentially have access to it. This works for pics of all types, from sexually inappropriate things to pics from a party where people are drinking to social networking 'interests' lists. We've all heard stories of people getting turned down from a job b/c of a facebook profile. Young people need to know about this early.

          2. Cyber bullying. For crying out loud, this is huge, and young people are the most vulnerable. Kids need to know that what gets put online has real consequences, and conversely, to not take rumors or gossip posted online seriously. We've all seen the story about the girl who killed herself b/c a neighbor (parent posing as a teen!) was saying hateful things about her.

          3. What the internet is...a computer network. No more, no less. It's a powerful communications tool, just like a car is a powerful transportation tool. If you don't understand and respect what it can do, you or someone else will pay for it.

          I know I kinda sound lame and schoolmarm-ish on that last one, but it's true...damn I'm getting old.

          The Virginia school classes are nothing more than ignorant reactionary bs meant to calm the irrational fears of soccer moms who watch too much Dateline.
          • Re:wrong topic (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Belial6 (794905) on Monday April 07, 2008 @08:48PM (#22995460)
            "Unfortunately, being aware of adults seeking to trick them into sexual situations is NOT an internet issue, it is a social issue"

            This is absolutely correct. Not only that, it is WAY better to have your kid learn the basic rules of safety when there is a thousand miles of wire between them and the person that is trying to take advantage of them. (sexually or not) The idea that kids should learn how to deal with these people in face to face situations FIRST is just not logical.

            I agree with #1 and #2, but 'Cyber Bullying' is exactly the same situation as sexual predators. Bullying is not a different situation because it is on a computer. Schools want to pretend like it is because it allows them to extend their authority and thus power outside of the schools. In a hundred years, schools have not addressed real life bullying that includes the same things that happens online as well as physical assaults. Your example of the girl who killed herself, helps make this clear. The girl never did know that the person who first pretended to like her, and then said very mean things was an adult. The fact that it WAS an adult is totally irrelevant. The fact is that boys have pretended to like girls, only to spurn them later has been happening for as long as we have recorded history of male female interactions. It is safe to assume that it was going on well before we started recording history. The same can be said of girls pretending to like boys and then spurning them, as well as adults to adults. The girl killed herself because she was infatuated and got dumped. No one would have blamed the telephone for this if it happened over the phone, or the school if a boy had done this to her there.

            I would want to see the schools dealing with real live bullying before they start even considering dipping their greedy hands into my home. Heck
            • straw man (Score:3, Insightful)

              by globaljustin (574257)

              The idea that kids should learn how to deal with these people in face to face situations FIRST is just not logical.

              I never said that, or made any statements that insinuate it either. Your logical fallacy is called the straw man. [wikipedia.org]

              You construct a widely exaggerated statement (kids should learn how to deal with inappropriate adults face to face first vs. over the net), then attribute it to me, then unleash an argument against it that sounds good but is actually completely meaningless, b/c I never said a

              • Re:straw man (Score:4, Insightful)

                by Belial6 (794905) on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @12:36AM (#22996766)

                The idea that kids should learn how to deal with these people in face to face situations FIRST is just not logical.
                I never said that, or made any statements that insinuate it either. Your logical fallacy is called the straw man.
                I was not attributing that to you. I'm sorry if it sounded that way. You are correct that if I had attributed it to you, it would have been a strawman argument. The statement was concerning people who think that the internet is somehow more dangerous than real life.

                As for the bullying... The schools clearly have no interest in stopping bullying. It would be great if they did, but a hundred years of inaction shows that they don't. So, you have to ask why they want to do something about 'cyber' bullying when they have done nothing about assaults and abuse physically in front of them. The answer is clear. They want to take over being in charge of your kids when they are at home also. Assault and battery between peers does not make it something other than assault and battery. You and I are presumably peers, but if you punch me in the face, it is still assault and battery.

                The problem with having a health class that covers assaults is that the people committing them know full well what they are doing. No one is confused about it. They also know full well that the school doesn't give a crap if they do it as long as the teachers and administration don't have to deal with it. On the bullying, I think we may just have to only half agree.
            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by ceoyoyo (59147)
              Well, chances are that if a kid is going to have to deal with some sort of sexual abuse it will be a relative, in their home, likely starting before they ever get into school. The stranger on the street scenario is almost ridiculously unlikely.

              But the Internet has this wonderful power to bring us all together, so the stranger on the Internet scenario isn't quite as ridiculously unlikely.
            • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

              by Jardine (398197)
              In a hundred years, schools have not addressed real life bullying that includes the same things that happens online as well as physical assaults.

              Sure they have. They introduced Zero Tolerance policies so that when a kid who is being bullied defends himself from the bully, they both get suspended.
              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by pjt33 (739471)
                Correction: they introduced Zero Tolerance policies so that a kid who is being bullied gets suspended along with the bully whether he defends himself or not.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by zappepcs (820751)
          It's possibly slightly worse that imagined. Imagine the course being taught by someone that can't answer the questions that high schoolers can ask about the Internet and resources to be found there?

          How do I do that in Evolution? But adblockplus won't run under IE12, what do I do?

          In the end, it will end up a MS/**AA fud fest because F/OSS communities do NOT have the resources to dedicate training or funds for training to teachers in all those schools.

          Sure, you can put together a nice website for their use bu
          • by DeadChobi (740395)
            Teaching certification coursework is full of lame little "standards" like understanding copyright law and being able to teach it to students so that they understand that downloading the newest NiN CD is technically stealing. Really, most teachers will not remember 90% of the stuff which they "learn" in those courses. So even though it's unlikely that they would remember the little internet safety tips they would get in their coursework, it's even less likely that they would remember every single little piec
      • by Actually, I do RTFA (1058596) on Monday April 07, 2008 @07:37PM (#22994944)

        A) Realize that no matter how much you warn them of the "dangers" of the Internet, kids will still get on it

        B) Realize that many teenagers will rebel and still get on

        These are the same. And abstince-only education doesn't work with sex either. The point is to teach them safe habits.

        C) Realize that by teaching ways that predators will stalk them, they will think they are safe if they don't have those

        Well, to a large degree, that's true. If you never give anyone enough information to track you down, and never meet people off the internet, then you are pretty safe. If they find out your IP address they might be able to find out your neighborhood/block. But you even avoid that by not directly connecting with people.

        That does discount spyware, but that seems like a second class of issues (or second class by the school.).

        D) And lastly, realize that this opens up an avenue for propaganda by MS and the *AA to try to squash innovation by spreading FUD with how "pirated" things always has viruses and can lead to identity theft and being stalked!!!One!11!![sic]

        Sure it seems like a good idea, but remember the government gave us the DMCA and most likely doesn't know anything about what the 'Net is really like.

        Wow, way to combine three typical slashdot dislikes. First, it was the federal government who gave us the DMCA, not Virginia. Second, a lot of the DMCA makes sense (the safe-harbor provisions). I suppose you are talking about the generality of the term 'encrption scheme' so that it applies to ROT-13 and the law against having mechanisms to get around it? Well, even that seems more carelessly written than evil.

        And even if there was a lot of anti-piracy in the class, that 1) seems valid, as pirated software is more likely to have spyware than the non-pirated alternative (exception that proves the rule, P2P clients). 2) Even if it was used to curb piracy, how does that lead to a lack of innovation? I would understand software patents, but... 3) Even if that was a negative consequence, teaching kids good online habits seems to outweigh it. 4) Piracy *is* illegal, and the government *should* support upholding the law.

        Political rant: I don't understand how the Republicans/Libertarians can win elections with attitudes like yours. Of course, if you think government will always fail, and you are in charge of it, it will. My coworker claims that all architecture meetings take forever and end indecisively, but of course he has the power to cause that outcome.

        • by webmaster404 (1148909) on Monday April 07, 2008 @08:07PM (#22995178)

          Wow, way to combine three typical slashdot dislikes. First, it was the federal government who gave us the DMCA, not Virginia. Second, a lot of the DMCA makes sense (the safe-harbor provisions). I suppose you are talking about the generality of the term 'encryption scheme' so that it applies to ROT-13 and the law against having mechanisms to get around it? Well, even that seems more carelessly written than evil.


          While that is true, government is government is government. I was referring to how it was illegal to do some (seemingly) perfectly legal things such as install modchips, break CSS to duplicate DVDs, break DRM on your media... Im not saying that the DMCA is necessarily evil, but it stops innovation nonetheless.

          And even if there was a lot of anti-piracy in the class, that 1) seems valid, as pirated software is more likely to have spyware than the non-pirated alternative (exception that proves the rule, P2P clients). 2) Even if it was used to curb piracy, how does that lead to a lack of innovation? I would understand software patents, but... 3) Even if that was a negative consequence, teaching kids good online habits seems to outweigh it. 4) Piracy *is* illegal, and the government *should* su support upholding the law.


          Because, soon enough, what starts out as no "piracy" becomes no P2P, becomes no owning your programs, becomes no owning your media (see how this can grow, we are already to where P2P == piracy and MS/DMCA is pushing to no owning programs/media....)

          Most kids already know good online habits, everyone knows you shouldn't go with random strangers online. Sure there are some stupid ones that will do whatever a 50 year old man tells them to, but some people don't think that coffee is going to be hot and sue McDonalds, does that really justify a warning label?

          The problem though is, it won't be "piracy is illegal and so don't do it" it will be some online predators use pirated versions of Windows which probably is a fact, then it becomes all online predators use pirated Windows, then it becomes pirating Windows == online stalking.

          Bottom line, its not what it is today, it is what it could be tomorrow that I am pointing out.
          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            by OMNIpotusCOM (1230884) *

            Most kids already know good online habits, everyone knows you shouldn't go with random strangers online

            Like not putting pictures up of them underaged drinking on FaceBook? Oh wait...

            The problem though is, it won't be "piracy is illegal and so don't do it" it will be some online predators use pirated versions of Windows which probably is a fact, then it becomes all online predators use pirated Windows, then it becomes pirating Windows == online stalking.

            I don't know what internet security courses at a high school have to do with your tinfoil hat there, but it is really shiny. The kids will love it... so long as they don't tie you to the ceiling and shine bright lights at it.

        • Well, even that seems more carelessly written than evil.

          Perhaps, but the difference between a modern, functioning society and a broken corporatocratic dystopia can probably be found in a couple of "carelessly written" laws.

      • by plowfunkel (1151639) on Monday April 07, 2008 @08:54PM (#22995494)
        There is absolutely NO REASON to teach our children physics... A) Realize that no matter how many sample problems they work through, kids will still find problems that they have not seen before B) Realize many young scientists will rebel and say nothing can travel faster than light or that mass and energy are the same thing C) Realize that teaching students about inertial frameworks will just make them think they know how to solve problems that involve non-inertial frameworks D) And lastly, realize that this opens up an avenue for propaganda by CERN and the *AAS to try to squash discovery by spreading FUD about how fundamental discoveries require trillion dollar colliders!! Sure it seems like a good idea, but remember the government gave us the ATOM BOMB and most likely doesn't know anything about what the laws of nature are really like.
      • by kesuki (321456)
        D) And lastly, realize that this opens up an avenue for propaganda by MS and the *AA to try to squash innovation by spreading FUD with how "pirated" things always has viruses and can lead to identity theft and being stalked!!!One!11!!

        How does software piracy promote innovation? better p2p clients? I'm trying to stretch my mind here, about how piracy in any way benefits anyone except the hacker who made sure you have a version of windows you'll never update, and thus will be totally exposed to hackers who
      • by troll -1 (956834)
        Realize also ....

        that according to FBI statistics the Internet is a relatively safe place for kids.

        The mythological sexual predator has far greater opportunities in the real world than he does online. According the the stats a child a gazillion times more likely to be physically abused in the real world than online.

        The real danger is from the child's teacher, priest, or guardian, not the Internet.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by hedwards (940851)

        A) Realize that no matter how much you warn them of the "dangers" of the Internet, kids will still get on it

        That's largely the point. The dangers of the internet could easily be solved completely if we eliminated it. Educating kids is a good compromise between completely banning them and what we've got presently.

        B) Realize that many teenagers will rebel and still get on

        Right, and that's why so many teens that have sex use condoms. I mean who would possibly rebel in a way which wasn't completely self destructive.

        Screwing the rest of the teens out of the resources to make better choices sure beats encouraging teenage rebellion.

        C) Realize that by teaching ways that predators will stalk them, they will think they are safe if they don't have those

        And this is superior to these kids having

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by jma05 (897351)
        Huh? You are phrasing it as a "don't do drugs" message. Rather, it is a "how to cross the street safely" lesson.

        I don't see how this is possibly a bad thing as long as they are only communicating established facts. And a spyware course (and other Internet common sense education) is much more relevant today than a baking course in today's world, in my opinion.

        I am not sure why this is tagged "thinkofthechildren". While technically a correct tag, it is used on Slashdot to refer to unreasonable legislations th
    • by joggle (594025) on Monday April 07, 2008 @07:22PM (#22994804) Homepage Journal
      Even good parents may not be particularly Internet savvy. I think this is a great idea, especially if at least some of the lessons are given by other kids.

      I remember once helping out at a teacher conference in summer between 8th and 9th grades to help teach them (the teachers) how to use their new Macs (back around 1992).
      • Bah... (Score:2, Insightful)

        by DaedalusHKX (660194)
        By the same principle, you're going to excuse "non automobile savvy parents" from being the failures they are because they were too incredibly stupid to teach their kids "don't hitch rides with strangers" (unless of course the kid aces the local IDPA pistol course and packs everywhere she goes, but that's impossible in modern countries, since only free men and women have access to any means of self defense at all. Modern countries discourage non institutionalized methods of self defense, and their denizens
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        I don't think I'm the only one around here who has fond memories of telling my computer teachers in highschool how to copy/paste, alt-tab, and use other extremely basic functions. Oh, sure, I learned a lot in those classes, but very little of that knowledge actually came from the teacher.

        If this is going to work, either a lot more money must be spent getting the teachers up to date (easier said than done, since many of the people on top remain fearful of or overwhelmed by this series of tubes), or they'll
    • by Burz (138833)
      Indeed. I'd go as far as to say that parenting classes ought to be mandatory, with instructions that children ought to be kept from browsing the Internet by themselves much as they are kept from driving automobiles.

      As for these computer safety lessons, how much to do want to bet that no where in the entire school curriculum is the correct way to use HTTPS taught?
    • by value_added (719364) on Monday April 07, 2008 @07:29PM (#22994872)
      This is a fine idea - The internet is a treacherous place for children.

      The web, in general, may be an inappropriate venue for a young child, but it's hardly treacherous. In fact, I'd say that the risk of being targeted and hunted down in some manner is probably far less than your local playground. Which is to say the risk is small enough to put aside, and hardly something that merits the exaggerated press coverage, let alone the subject of a government mandated safety policy.

      Besides, if a child of any age is inclined to participate in "chat rooms", then they'll have plenty of supervisory company from law enforcement officials and TV celebrities.

      What would real Internet Safety Program look like? I'd start with something that includes unhiding file extensions on Windows systems to prevent the .exe nonsense that unlike the bogeyman, is a real and demonstrable threat.

      But I'd rather see mandatory parenting.

      Agreed. But they're both working, and too busy or too tired, trying to make a living. Guess the responsibility falls on the rest of us, huh?
      • by rtb61 (674572)
        A real internet safety program for children, is simply a separate school-net just for children, which would be supervised and controlled, to ensure relatively safe interaction as well as acceptable content, a combination leisure and education network. In reality the greatest danger to children is and always will be other children, they oddly enough seem to lack the maturity and wisdom to be self supervising.

        There is simply no way that you can make the wild wild web, safe and suitable for access by unsuper

    • by Doc Ruby (173196)
      No, I don't want to see the state require what parents must teach their kids. Basic liberty and even biological diversity depend on parents exercising the maximum freedom possible in teaching their kids.

      There is a good case for holding parents responsible when their kids break laws their parents should be responsible for teaching them not to break.

      But schools should teach kinds the minimum that makes them safe. Kids whose parents already taught them will have it easy, and thereby get a reward, as well has s
      • by gnick (1211984)

        There is a good case for holding parents responsible when their kids break laws their parents should be responsible for teaching them not to break.

        That sounds like a great way to mandate parenting - But I fail to understand your post's title...

        No, I don't want to see the state require what parents must teach their kids.

        Agreed. But that debate gets really complicated when you start discussing how much influence parents have over what the state teaches them. Sure, the state is made up of its constituency. But, if a county votes in teaching Pastfarianism, do the teachers really have to teach it?

        • by Doc Ruby (173196)
          There's a difference between the government ensuring kids know some things, and specifying that parents teach them those things. We're talking about consequences, which parents should be free to expect and encounter any way they want. If they think it's worth going to jail for their 15 year old mugging someone, because they didn't teach them not to, that's their business. The main benefit would be giving the kid a chance to finally learn the lesson, including seeing their delinquent parent going to jail, ev
    • by EmbeddedJanitor (597831) on Monday April 07, 2008 @07:52PM (#22995060)
      Some time ago school was a place you went to to learn reading, writing and arithmetic. Slowly schools are getting more loaded with stuff that should be taught by parents/community: sex ed, health studies, morals and ethics and now safe browsing.

      Soon schools will also have to teach kids to dress: "Now remember class, you can't wear a striped shirt with plaid pants".

      It does seem that school is getting to be less about education and more about daycare (so that parents can go and have careers instead of raising kids).

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by ubernostrum (219442)

        Some time ago school was a place you went to to learn reading, writing and arithmetic. Slowly schools are getting more loaded with stuff that should be taught by parents/community: sex ed, health studies, morals and ethics and now safe browsing.

        You mean that it's not like the golden days of the 1950s when the precious little snowflakes were taught how to cook meals for themselves and balance their checkbooks in their home economics classes?

    • by jd (1658)
      You wouldn't believe some of the depravity [icanhascheezburger.com] on the Internet. (Seriously, it's not a "safe" place, but if you're Puritan, neither is the phone book, and the only guaranteed safe TV channel is one that is empty. Even Senators have been known to use profanity live.)

      Better education would be the smartest move (and not just about the Internet), followed by "safe" (as in: non-controlling, non-manipulative, non-guilt-tripping, non-judgemental) support from trusted adults - not necessarily parents, and in many cas

    • by mh1997 (1065630)

      But I'd rather see mandatory parenting
      It's not that easy. Last night while I was getting drunk and my bitch was whoring herself for crack, our 2 year old accidentally logged onto the internet and the next thing you know, the lamp was broken.

      It could have been worse - she could have killed herself.

      I just wish we lived in Virginia where we could get drunk and sell our bodies without fear that our kid will log onto the internet and get hurt.

    • They require internet safety belts, internet air bags, and internet car seats!
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by iamhassi (659463)
      "This is a fine idea - The internet is a treacherous place for children."

      Agreed. Now let's take it a step further: make it illegal for adults (over 18) to pose as children (under 18) online.

      That would fix the 31-yr-old posing as 15-yr-old problem.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by lgw (121541)

        That would fix the 31-yr-old posing as 15-yr-old problem.
        Is that a significant problem? Despite the myth of the Online Sexual Predator (oooh, scary), the evidence is that when a teen goes to meet an adult for sex, the teen knows it's an adult ahead of time, and usually meets that adult more than once.

        You may find the behavior unacceptable, but there's usually no trickery involved (beyond the level of trickery involved in any date).
    • This is a fine idea - The internet is a treacherous place for children.

      Actually given the number of adults that don't understand what they are doing and getting themselves caught it cons, I think general education would be better. Maybe someone can prepare a one page guide on internet safety. Any longer than that and it won't be read.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by gnick (1211984)

        Maybe someone can prepare a one page guide on internet safety.
        I'd like to buy that page! Please send 1 copy to:
        gnick Pudentame
        13666 Mockingbrid Lane
        Springfield, IL

        Charge my M/C: 5424 1534 8467 8942

        Thanks!
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by antic (29198)
      "But I'd rather see mandatory parenting."

      Sure (and I agree that responsibility lies with parents), but the kids taking these lessons will be parents eventually. You could mandate safety lessons for adults also, but it's not all that convenient once they've left the structured environment (fixed times and lesson plans) of a school.
  • kneejerk reaction (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nomadic (141991) <nomadicworld@NoSPAm.gmail.com> on Monday April 07, 2008 @07:12PM (#22994720) Homepage
    from the nanny-state dept.

    I know the usual kneejerk reaction here to any government act taken in regards to children is to immediately stick one's fingers in one's ears and shout NANNY STATE until one is hoarse, but I really don't see anything especially forbidding about teaching some basic internet safety skills in school.
    • by Delwin (599872) on Monday April 07, 2008 @07:15PM (#22994738)
      I see it as on par with mandatory traffic safety. ... both of which I'm all for.
    • by explosivejared (1186049) <hagan.jared@NOSPAM.gmail.com> on Monday April 07, 2008 @08:31PM (#22995324)
      Oh COME ON!! You know they won't teach the important stuff, like how to defend against a goatse attack. Do you expect some underpaid government nanny state social worker to be able to properly outline the correct the Natalie Portman and grits defense?! I guarantee you they have no idea about Godwin's law! These kids are doomed from the start!
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      I agree that teaching children some basic lessons on internet use and safety isn't necessarily a bad idea in the modern world.

      The thing that really troubles me though is the paranoid attitute underlying all this, and the reasons this descision was made, to quote TFA

      Virginia's requirement initially stemmed from concerns about sex offenders preying on children online and a general increase in Internet-based crime. It took effect this school year.

      Statistically a child in the US is 2.5 times more likely to be hit by lightning than to be the victim of abduction by a stranger. Cases of strangers abusing children are actually vanishingly rare events.

      So by all means teach children about i

  • by dmadzak (997352) on Monday April 07, 2008 @07:14PM (#22994732) Homepage
    or maybe it is better to keep all the mommy and daddy basement dwellers in a single location to keep an eye on them.
    • by eclectro (227083)
      It's not Digg that's the problem. People need to warned on how to not be rickrolled, and more importantly how to avoid goatse.

      BTW, basements are cozy.
  • by StefanJ (88986) on Monday April 07, 2008 @07:16PM (#22994746) Homepage Journal
    The lessons will take an "abstinence only" approach, and will feature a videotape titled Internet: A System of Tubes of Terror showing the like-true story of an 18 year old whose accepts an invitation to a slumber party that turns out to take place in the basement bedroom of a 320 lbs., 48 year old furry fan.
    • "abstinence only" approach

      and if this was florida (...) I'd be guessing that the teens think that drinking a shot of bleach would remove any viruses from their computers...

      (a fark.com ref. if you read fark, you'd get this ref.)

    • by cashman73 (855518)
      Actually, I was thinking that the title Semen Flows White on the Information Superhighway had a better ring to it,... ;-)
  • by jakek812 (958016) on Monday April 07, 2008 @07:23PM (#22994808)
    I'm a sophomore in high school in Maryland. My school has had people give speeches on Internet safety multiple times. Typically these lessons serve more to teach inaccuracies about the internet (as the people who teach them tend to know nothing about the internet) and scare people away from the internet based on those falsehoods, then actually teach people how to be safe on the internet. Obviously my experiences are not a guarantee of what will happen in Virginia, but as I said, I have been through these things multiple times and they have never turned out well.
    • by cashman73 (855518) on Monday April 07, 2008 @07:55PM (#22995086) Journal
      Having done most of my education in Virginia (6th grade through PhD), I think I have some idea how this is going to go. First, the teachers will receive a bare minimum amount of instruction and education into this. There will be some cookie-cutter materials that the department of education will pass out, and they'll make teachers sit through some class. But the bulk of the instruction will consist of the teacher plopping an over-produced, over-dramatic, under-budgeted, cheesy videocassette into an old VCR that the school should have replaced last century with something more modern. The teachers will then do nothing more than to facilitate some type of bogus group discussion on this whole internet thing. And, of course, the students won't take it seriously at all. Because how can some grown up know more about the facebooks and myspaces out there -- "grown ups aren't supposed to use these things." So half the students will end up practically sleeping through it, and the other half will end up cracking wise-ass jokes at the teacher and getting smart. So the overall effectiveness of this will be essentially nil.

      Oh wait, I forgot! The most important benefit of this program is actually for the state legislators who passed this, because it makes them look like they're "thinking of the children" and trying to "protect the precious little snowflakes", so that some numbnut can get re-elected and steal more money from the state's coffers. Yes folks, this is how politics works in Virginia. Surprised? You shouldn't be.

    • Obviously my experiences are not a guarantee of what will happen in Virginia, but as I said, I have been through these things multiple times and they have never turned out well.

      Virginia's internet is fed by different tubes than Maryland's, it's totally different.

  • If what's taught is at all reasonable and accurate, this makes sense to me.

    I imagine today's parents are probably young enough to figure it out, but not all of us are necessarily internet-aware in the way the current generation of children is.

    This is a case where centralized teaching really does make more sense than parent-by-parent teaching, due to levels of experience and technological literacy needed. As long as it's just passing information, I'm all for it.
    • It's probably going to be the equivalent of "Duck and Cover", rather than "Stop, Drop and Roll"...

    • by CastrTroy (595695)
      I'm not so sure about that. I'm 27, I have 2 kids, and I'm pretty knowledgable about the internet. However, I know a lot of people the same age as me, who have no clue about the internet. I know people who don't even know how to bookmark a website. It's probably even worse for the parents of kids who are actually on the internet (mine are both under 2, so no real internet for them). Since most people wait until they are 30 until they have kids now (or so it seems), that means that a 13 year old's pare
  • Licenses? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by snarfies (115214) on Monday April 07, 2008 @07:25PM (#22994834) Homepage
    If I pass my internet safety class, do I get an internet license? And must I present proof of license to get internet service?

    I mean, I actually like the idea of some sort of internet safety education (which I hope will also include teaching people how NOT to get their machines pwnt), I just don't see how it'll be enforced.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Jodaxia (312456)
      No you have to sign an EULA
    • by icebike (68054)
      > If I pass my internet safety class, do I get an
      > internet license? And must I present proof of
      > license to get internet service?

      Yes, to both.

      See the same vice-Principal that gave you your sex license after you passed Sex-Ed. He will take you to the same back room where he gave you your sex license and final exam, and then you are free to surf the net and his video collection, where you will find your own Sex-Ed final exam published.

      Surf carefully now....

  • Relevant education (Score:4, Informative)

    by HalAtWork (926717) on Monday April 07, 2008 @07:32PM (#22994904)
    I wish schools would teach people about things they need to do in life such as how to get a house and all the necessary utilities, how to rent an apartment, how to open a bank account and what you might want to do to prepare your finances for the future, how to look for a job, etc.
    • by Miseph (979059)
      But if our schools teach basic fiscal responsibility and planning, the entire economy will collapse!
  • Don't forget to wear a condom when you are surfing on the interwebs!
    • Don't forget to wear a condom when you are surfing on the interwebs!

      Since the only thing I can read this post is drawing a parallel to the (poster thinks is negative) "don't forget to wear a condom when you have sex", I'm going to disagree and state that I favor teaching safe-sex practices.

  • by Kuciwalker (891651) on Monday April 07, 2008 @08:22PM (#22995266)
    I don't think they're going to be able to get people who actually understand the risks of the Internet to teach these classes. They'll probably take the PE teachers or something, send the teachers to a workshop for a few hours or days to learn the curriculum, and the teachers will end up teaching straight from a workbook written by some bureaucrat. Still, it's a good idea in the abstract, and maybe they'll surprise us.

    What would be really useful is a required course in basic computer security (e.g. always enable file extensions, don't run arbitrary programs that arrive in your email inbox, don't trust the website that says "download this for free smilies in AIM!").

    • I don't think they're going to be able to get people who actually understand the risks of the Internet to teach these classes.

      You're probably right, but it's a significant event just the same. It's the first step in treating the public interest.

      For the past ten years I've been only-half-jokingly advocating for an Internet usage license. Substantially, this would be a way to educate about security. It would be nice if it also makes people less vulnerable themselves when they go on the net, though I w

  • Let's start by mandating them for adults, too!

    Seriously, if you have more than, say, five toolbars in your browser, I will not help you with anything other than a full format and reinstall. Learn to not download spyware.

    Also, spam obviously works, or there wouldn't (still!) be so much of it. Stop paying these fuckers!
  • Yay... (Score:2, Funny)

    by Symbha (679466)
    Now they can start teaching kids how to pass the No Child Left Online test...
  • More info (Score:3, Informative)

    by esocid (946821) on Monday April 07, 2008 @08:55PM (#22995502) Journal
    From the VA Department Of Education [virginia.gov]. They even have some nifty power points. /grumble
  • I mean, it could be done so badly, like abstinence-only sex education. But, IMHO, this kind of thing could be handled well and be extremely useful.

    Censoring things is the option most people seem to have chosen, and that's a horrible, horrible choice.

  • Certainly, this is just another "think of the children" program, intended to scare kids shitless with the idea that everyone in the world is on a mission to touch their naughty bits. But why not also teach them about some more useful bits of Internet safety, like techniques for avoiding malware, phishing, and other scams? Such a lesson will serve these kids for the rest of their lives.

  • That's my profile they talk about in the article! :\
  • by LM741N (258038) on Monday April 07, 2008 @09:19PM (#22995652)
    Have some teenage girl, maybe 14 or 15 start up an online relationship in this class with a supposed cute boy. Then later on towards the end of the Internet education session, the "cute boy" is brought in and he kind of looks like Meatloaf.
  • The story is scant on details about the lessons, but describes one recently at a high school where the presenter showed a social-networking profile of a convicted sex offender posing as a 15 year-old girl. "


    Which is ok to do, if you work for Chris Hansen...
  • by Davemania (580154) on Monday April 07, 2008 @10:47PM (#22996150) Journal
    Surely internet abstinence should be taught.

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