Want to know even more about the Internet? Ask your children

Children know much more about things than we give them credit for. You will find plenty of books advising parents on how to protect their children when they are using the Internet. But few of these books, or the articles you read on online protection of children, tell you it is the parents who need to know more than their children.

Earlier this week I spoke to a large group of children at the annual Quaker Summer Youth Event. My task was to help them be safe online. But it was apparent that they knew more than many adults about online safety. I asked them whether or not they would do something, like make their personal details available online. Who would be foolish enough to do that was the chorus of replies I received. Well adults would. That’s why identity fraud is so easy.

Adults like to think they know more than children, but often it is not the case. A few years back I visited one of the UK’s growing group of high tech schools and discovered that seven-year-olds there were dab hands at PowerPoint presentations, surfing the Internet and selecting appropriate information. As the head teacher told me the children were often teaching their parents.

Now it seems that Microsoft is bidding to help schools become even more high tech. But as the BBC TV programme Click points out all of the software and services that the children are getting used to are – hey presto – Microsoft ones.

Like banks that try to acquire students, they know that if you “get them young” you keep many of them for life. Building high tech schools is a fantastic idea, but allowing them to be put together by a single commercial supplier might not be a good suggestion. It will mean that the Internet of the future will be a Microsoft led one, rather than at the moment a Google led one. Ho hum, the battle goes on….!

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