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Of course, parents want their children to have 21st century skills, since the workplace will be far different when todays students are ready to earn a living. Currently, about 45 million Americans telecommute -- work from home using the Internet -- and those numbers only are expected to increase. Tomorrows employees will have to be more flexible and be able to reach for a keypad as automatically as their parents reached for a stick pen.

At the same time, parents, and adults in general, get a little queasy at the idea of all the information at the fingertips of youngsters today. Parents and teachers need to help students understand the educational capabilities of the Web, and to be cautious when using it for socializing or for entertainment.

"We need to educate children to live in an unfiltered world. Thats a responsibility of schools and parents."
"We as parents and educators and adults have to make sure kids are information literate -- we need to help them determine what is authentic," said McLester. "People may not realize the importance of information literacy. Kids have to know how to investigate."

According to an article in Interactive Dad magazine, almost two out of every five online households include children under the age of 18, and about 60 percent of these children access the Internet from home. Among pre-schoolers, the Internet is used almost exclusively as a source of entertainment. Among children ages 6 to 12, about 75 percent log on to do schoolwork, but even more head for the Web for fun.

Three out of every four teenagers communicate using e-mail and about 63 percent via instant messaging, according to the 2005 article.

"Schools take online safety issues seriously, but kids are most unsafe using the computer at home," said Krueger. "We need to educate children to live in an unfiltered world. Thats a responsibility of schools and parents."

Too much technology immersion, though, obviously is not good for children either. A study just published by Save the Children UK indicated that primary children across Britain were losing their ability to make friends and interact with other children, which teachers attributed to technology over-use.

More than 70 percent of primary school teachers interviewed said they had witnessed "a negative impact of modern day solitary pastimes such as Internet chat rooms, MP3 players, computer games, and mobile phones on the ability of children to make friends and interact with one another," according to the study.

One of the places parents can turn if they have concerns about their children spending too much time on the Internet is the Center for Internet Addiction . The site provides a Parent-Child Internet Addiction Test parents can use.

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Article by Ellen R. Delisio
Education World®
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