Out of those listed by Roblyer and Doering, the three problems that in my experience have caused most concern regarding internet use for adolescent students are:

Potential problem #1: Accessing sites with inappropriate materials

This problem has many facets: access can be accidental or deliberate and smartphones that are not using school networks mean that many, maybe even most high school students have the internet in their hand and can access undesired content at anytime.

In regards to classroom access, as recommended in the module notes it is better to provide students with relevant sites to access rather than sending them to openly research online. Additionally, systems that block access to potential dangers are helpful in limiting undesired access; however as noted in the module notes, the inadvertent outcome of network blocks is often that useful, appropriate sites are blocked and I have experienced this many times in teaching art and design. My school tried a system last year to provide teachers the opportunity to open a site for a period of time so that the IT staff were not constantly bombarded with requests. In theory it was a great idea, however in practice, the software required the teacher to enable access for the class, the students to individually request approval for access and the teacher to confirm each student’s access independently. With students needing access at various times throughout a lesson, this option was a time management disaster and was quickly scrapped!

Potential problem #2: Safety and privacy issues for students

Young people are often naive, trusting and easily persuaded and this puts them at great potential risk. As articulated by child psychologist Andrew Fuller, the underdeveloped frontal lobe inhibits informed decision making and therefore spontaneous online behaviour for adolescents can be highly problematic.

Students (and parents) need explicit teaching about safe use of the internet, digital citizenship, cyber safety and managing their digital reputation. As Fuller suggests, young people also benefit from education about decision making:

“Slowing adolescent minds down so that they don’t have to do the first thing that comes into their heads requires kind coaching in reflective rather than impulsive decision making.”

Potential problem #5: Copyright and plagiarism issues

Young people live busy lives with many added commitments on top of their schoolwork and therefore attempts to submit plagiarised work are frequent. My college provides information about plagiarism in every unit outline, a printed booklet is provided and accessible on the college website and teachers speak regularly to inform students of the consequences. Sites such as Turnitin are very helpful for both students and teachers to identify plagiarism. A preventative option is to ensure that tasks involve rich requirements rather than just a research report. Comparison, analysis and application of concepts in task requirements helps to prevent the likelihood of plagiarised content in written work. In practical work, requiring documentation of the process of work as well as evidence of idea development and inspiration is also helpful.

For each of these issues the important safeguard is education and from many different sources. There are excellent resources online, police visits can be helpful, drama acts such as Brainstorm cover content around internet safety and identity. At the risk of overload I think it is better to invest in a range of options to assist in education to limit the issues of internet use for young people.

References

Andrew Fuller 2014. Adolescent Learning – Fact sheet. Retreived from http://andrewfuller.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/adolescentlearning.pdf

Roblyer, M. D., & Doering, A. H. (2014). Integrating educational technology into teaching: international edition, 6th edition. Harlow: Pearson.