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eDriver’s Ed–Is it time?

Should our schools now be required to teach about driving safety on the internet superhighway?

The idea of teaching internet safety to our children is not new. And, after years of working on the internet I’ve discovered that I’ve never had an original thought… just “original to me”… So I’m sure this is elsewhere… But let me talk about the key concept here – Internet safety should be required and is as important as drivers education.

Comparing Computers and Cars

The interface of most cars is pretty straight forward. You have key items such as starting it, shifting into a gear, steering wheel, brake, accelerator, etc.. Contrast that to a computer where we have SO many different user interfaces. However, the one that’s quickly becoming the most prevalent is the internet browser.

The plethora of interfaces on a computer along with the complexity of different hardware and network configurations has focused much of the computer training on how to deal with the user interface or how to deal with the hardware.

Consider these “buyer” questions for a moment…

Car Computer
How big (many ccs) is the engine? How much memory does it have?
What’s the horsepower? How fast is the processor?
How large is the trunk? How large is the hard drive?

As our attention moves away from the supporting technology and toward the features the questions shift…

Car Computer
Can I listen to music from my iPod? Can I listen to music from my iTunes?
Is it comfortable? Is it light and comfortable to carry?
Is it an automatic? Is it a tablet I can write on?
Does it get good gas mileage? Does the battery last a long time?

Now some people like the underlying technology (true statement for both car and computer) and would like to potentially go into a career as a network engineer, software engineer, or a auto mechanic (which pretty much requires a computer degree these days).

Think about cell phones for a moment. If you’re old enough to remember the year 1990 you’ll recall that very few people had cell phones.  I’m not sure I could find someone that does NOT have a cell phone today.

Computers aren’t yet that prevalent, but they are on their way. Of course the confusion over whether today’s phones are computing and browsing devices or phones muddies the waters.

Shift from Operating to Safely Operating

Failure to practice safe computing can be as devastating as the failure to drive safely. That seems like a bold statement, but there have already been incidents where internet chat rooms have led to loss of life. Other dangers of course are credit card theft, identity theft, spam/hoaxes, and viruses to name a few.

So as browsing becomes the primary use of computers, internet safety becomes more important. Just as with cars, the early days were spent learning to operate them. As they got easier to operate – and faster and more dangerous – then came learning to operate them safely. As computers become easier to use (pretty much everyone knows how to use a browser) and more dangerous, we also need to shift and place more emphasis on safety.

See, I told you so…

Ok… In the course of typing this up I shifted to add the notion of “required” training. With that, now I can find more similarities. Here was one of the more interesting posts that I saw on this topic… Once again… original thought… only to me.

Nancy Willard’s Weblog – Center for Save and Responsible Internet Use


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