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EDITORIAL: Laptop use is a learning experience
[November 10, 2008]

EDITORIAL: Laptop use is a learning experience

Nov 10, 2008 (The Daily Times - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Ten years ago, not even the most far-sighted futurist could have predicted how integrated the Internet would become with our daily lives. What once was a passing dalliance for computer enthusiasts has changed the way we work, play and learn.

As new technologies become more integrated into our daily lives, some adjustments to routine are necessary.

When the students at Mesa View Middle School were given laptops at the beginning of this school year, it was inevitable that some of the students would abuse this privilege. Fears turned into reality last week when it was revealed that several students were disciplined for accessing pornography on the Internet.

Aside from the fact that the ten incidents in question are not a reflection of the behavior of the majority of students, this incident needs to be a learning experience for the schools' parents and teachers.

Let there be no doubt that the laptop program is a good thing for students, but it is a learning experience. Students are learning responsible use of computers and the Internet, and, like all learning activities, they need the guiding hand of their elders.

This can be a difficult proposition for some. Students today are born into a technological world that may seem foreign to those of the past generation. Parental responsibility, however, cannot be mitigated by a lack of knowledge in how computers work. Parents need to know what their children are looking at on the Internet, the same way they need to know

what they watch on TV and what music they're listening to.
If you are a parent and are unsure of how to properly monitor your child's Internet access, we enourage you to talk with your child's teachers and learn more about how to do this. Even more important is talking to your child about dangers on the Internet such as identity theft and child predators, and explaining why their behavior is being monitored. We all need to work together toward responsible computer usage.

The school administration needs to be more active in monitoring students' access as well. They took on this responsibility when they began the laptop program. The nature of the Internet makes this a difficult task, but we are encouraged by the early steps by the district, such as imposing a curfew on computer access. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, children are most at risk online during the evening hours, making the school's step a positive one.

Let us not forget that the overall goal of this program is education. We teach our children with the hope that one day they will stand on their own. Their computer usage is monitored in the hopes that they will earn the responsibility of browsing the Internet unfettered. And maybe in the process, we can learn something from them as well.

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