Degree Name

EdD (Doctor of Education)

Program

Educational Leadership

Date of Award

12-2007

Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Eric S. Glover

Committee Members

Louise L. MacKay, James H. Lampley, Elizabeth Ralston

Abstract

According to a 2002 National Center for Education Statistics report, 98% of schools in 2001 were connected to the Internet and 63% of public classrooms had Internet connections. According to a 2003 United States Census Bureau report, 68.3% of homes with children subscribed to the Internet. These statistics reveal the scope of access children have to the Internet. This study focused on the children's voice by investigating the children's report of their online activities and their awareness of cyber security, ethics, and safety issues. The purpose of this study was to gain insight into the specific reported online activities and Internet safety knowledge of children aged 10-14 years along with their report of parental supervision of their Internet use. The study included data gathered from 446 self-administered surveys completed by 6th-, 7th-, and 8th-grade students in a rural school district in East Tennessee.

An analysis of the research confirmed that as children mature, they increase their use of the Internet and their participation in unsafe online practices. The findings indicated that the most common online practices reported by the middle-grade students included emailing, social networking (MySpace), instant messaging, publishing and sharing information about their favorite sports and activities, and using secret codes while messaging with friends. The results of this study indicated significant relationships between the household placement of the computer and the frequency of unsafe online practices; students with computers in private locations reported unsafe online practices with twice the frequency of those with computers that could be monitored. The findings reflected that, in general, students were knowledgeable about unsafe Internet practices and engaged primarily in safe practices; however, many did report practices that could potentially place them at risk. The results from this study demonstrate a need for Internet safety programs to educate parents about the dangers their children face online and how to minimize those risks and to help children to gain the knowledge, decision-making skills, and motivation necessary to make safe and responsible choices when they are using the Internet.

Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access

Copyright

Copyright by the authors.

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