Netiquette Banner Netiquette, by Virginia Shea, page 110

Fortunately, there's a lot that can be done about these problems.

Kids in cyberspace

Netiquette prescribes no special rules for kids in cyberspace. But following the rules of Netiquette requires a level of maturity that even many adults lack. Additionally, some areas of cyberspace contain material that, in the words of the TV disclaimers, "may be inappropriate for young people." So it's up to adults to introduce kids to cyberspace in a way that is pleasant and productive both for the kids and for the people they meet on the net.

In their article "The Internetworked School: A Policy for the Future," Barry Fishman and Roy Pea address some of these issues. (Endnote #22) They note that new approaches to teaching often spark community controversy, and that therefore, educators would be well advised to think through possible problems before they put their classrooms online.

Fishman and Pea suggest that any special ground rules for primary and secondary students in cyberspace should be based on existing sets of analogous guidelines. The most important of these is probably the school's existing policy on speech and behavior. They recommend that schools not routinely inspect students' private email or other areas designated as private. However, they do approve of rules against obscene, harassing, or abusive language. Additionally, just as students are expected to behave especially well when they're on "field trips" away from school, they suggest reminding students that they are in effect on a "virtual field trip" when they communicate with others in cyberspace.

I performed a few brief, totally unscientific interviews with some high school Internet users in my neighborhood. These students operate under rules that conform fairly closely to what Fishman and Pea suggest:


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