Internet

The Internet—also called the World Wide Web, or web—is a vast system of connections among individual computers and computer networks, allowing information and programmed activities to be easily shared by individuals around the world. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), over 90 percent of primary school students in the United States report using the Internet at home, at school, or in both settings. Educational uses emphasize searching for information about classroom projects or topics. As with printed media, it is necessary to assist children in determining the source and reliability of web-based information.

For entertainment, ''kids only'' sites provide links to topics of interest to children, often emphasizing popular culture heroes. For example, the cable televi sion channel ''Cartoon Network'' maintains a web site that allows children to ''interact'' with favorite animated figures and play games based on these characters. Chat and e-mail features of these sites encourage communication among geographically distant peers.

Because of the risk that children will be exposed to developmentally inappropriate content, most parents and schools discourage children from unsuper-vised Internet exploration. Anxiety about adult themes and predatory contact led to the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) of 1998, which requires web sites to seek parental permission before collecting personal or identifiable information from children, and the Recreational Software Advisory Council on the Internet (RSACi), which supervises a voluntary four-category rating system for Internet sites.

See also: COMPUTER LITERACY; HOME SCHOOLING Bibliography

Kids Interacting with Developmental Software (KIDS) [web site]. Available from http://www.childrenandcomputers.com/ Default.asp; INTERNET. National Associate for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) Technology Caucus [web site]. Available from http:// www.techandyoungchildren.org/index.shtml; INTERNET Northwest Educational Technology Consortium [web site]. Available from http://www.netc.org/index.html; INTERNET.

Sharon Seidman Milburn

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