Internet intelligence for teens

Computer skills are the fourth basic skills that children and young people must achieve – next to reading, writing and arithmetic!

I had a great time together with a class of middle school students a couple weeks ago. It was deadly serious: About Sensible Internet Use, but feeling such interest in the class is very inspirational. The occasion was The Norwegian Computer Society annual “Operation School-work” which gives a day to some 9th grade classes and I am happy to be one of them. Here is a picture from one of these days after the class a couple of years ago:


Let me use this opportunity to give you a bit more facts about the Norwegian school system and their use of computers in education in a global perspective:

Figures from OECD show that there is now 6 students per PC in the average Norwegian school. By comparison; nearly twice as many as in the French school, while in Germany they have 22 students per PC and the same in Mexico. Among countries that keep Norway company are Canada and New Zealand, while the United States and Australia is at the very top with 5 students per computer.
Even more important is the influence outside of school: Americans on average have 2.2 PC per capita and Norwegians 1.8. Swedish and Danes have an average of 1.7. In the UK there are 1.2 PC per capita, 1 in France and Spain is on 0.6 and e.g. Japan have 1.3. Of course a lot of them are on the job or at school PCs, but this means that the younger generation are more and more active users of PC – at school and at home. It’s an important part of their media information exposure and they need guidance as e-citizens. That’s why I say: Computer Skills is the fourth basic skill young people must achieve – next to the old ones: to reading, writing and arithmetic. We adults have a responsibility to help the youth use the net safely!

During the five hours of Operation School Work I discuss (you don’t teach those guys in the old ways – its too boring!):
How and where to find information on the net and even more important: how to evaluate what you find. Google is fine, but only if you are accurate in your search and have enough source criticism. The same with Wikipedia of course: the world’s largest and most updated encyclopaedia. Here you see the class working with some tasks I gave them:
Yea; its RennyBA in the background :lol:

Then comes the best part – to me: How to behave on the net (mail, chat, net societies, blogs etc.). I mean that is when I feel open communication with them and where we really understand each other. They think it’s cool when I, by personal experience can give them some advice about personal setting on Facebook, how to use IM, Skype and not to mention how fun it can be in the Blogsphere.

Some of you might have youngsters at home, so I’ll gladly share some of my advices:
• Use anonymous ‘nickname’ that is not traceable to your real name, where you live or what school you go on.
• Be careful on Facebook, where you are not anonymous! Learn and actively use privacy settings and be careful about what to share with friends and what is open to all. Don’t upload all the ‘funny’ photos from your private party. Everything that you do not want a future employer to see should be removed.
Never upload pictures of others without asking them first!
• If you are going to meet someone you have ‘met’ on the net for the first time; bring an adult you trust.
• Think about what kind of photos you have left on your mobile phone. If it is stolen or you lose it, some might post them.

When I left for the day, I saw some teens in the schoolyard eagerly going through pics on their phones and was thinking: It works – they are learning fast and if you take them seriously, they listen!

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  1. Nice to see your post about internet at school! Like the modern classroom on the picture with the computers on each desk! Many of my pupils use already internet at home with nice educational plays for kids! Myself I am fast always on the web to find new ideas for my class and perhaps I will see to correspond with another class of the same age by internet. Many schools have their site and talk about their pedagogical experiment. Perhaps I should think to create one. Sounds you have the best communication it can be with teenagers! Bravo Renny!

    As a dedicated teacher, I knew you would like this Claudie and I know you are an avant-garde on web.
    To communicate with other classes trough the net is a brilliant idea!
    In Norway they use net based communities for classes including the parents for messages and reporting school works.

  2. I think it is good to warn the kids about future problems on the net and their uses of the cell phone. Kids are so carefree and don’t realize that as wonderful as the net is, it can be a dangerous place.

    I do agree and really think they got the message – there is hope you know:-)

  3. good ideas, and if you upgrade your phone remember to delete all the text messages first…

    Thanks Pearl: another good point!

  4. I wish I’d learned how to use a computer when I was a kid … oh ya, they weren’t around then. Ha!

    I know: I got my first computer when I was 30, but get the hang of it quite soon. Ha!

  5. It certainly look like they are having more fun than my students! :lol: I’m sure you’re a great teacher.

    I think it’s great Norway embraces the fact that young people use the internet, and provide them with tools and the necessary criticism to use them. No point in turning a blind eye: kids do chat, use social website etc. Better teach them to be careful but I trust them to be smart enough to get by just fine.

    Having fun is the key, but then again; I just had them on this ‘special’ day of school.
    Your so right; Lets face it: puters and the net is here to stay!

  6. Good advice for ALL ages, not just students, Renny.

    Hope you and Diane have a great weekend! :-)
    Love & Hugs,

    You have a point there Diane!
    Wish you a great one too – tons of hugs back to you and your family :-)

  7. Belgian schools I don’t know but people I know and around me all have at least one computer in their household. Waterloo has put 10 computers at the disposal of the citizens and Mr. Gattino twice a week helps also there to explain emails and Internet ! In poorer areas of course it becomes less because to buy a computer is still expensive for a lot of families !
    Btw I wanted to show you our trip to the States in 1971 (if ever you have time)

    Interesting Gattina. There are computers in libraries for public use in Norway – a very good thing. How nice of your husband to volunteer in helping then!
    I’ll be right over.

  8. what a great post, renny. i have no doubt that you being able to tell the kids you have your own facebook and blog and things like that made them more willing to listen to you as well, in stead of them regarding you as just some overly fearful grown-up who thinks it can’t be anything but bad news out on the internet but who has very little actual experience. what a great service you provided to these young people.

    Your right: we where on speaking terms :-)
    Thanks for the compliment – it was great fun for me too.

  9. I was floored around a month ago when I received an email from my 8 year old niece, sending her love and to say that she misses me. Kids these days are really smart and wonderful!

    Due to smart kids, the world gets smaller you know :-)

  10. We can teach the young to use the net wisely but teens often believe they are wiser than us and that we are being overprotective or over cautious.

    I think meeting them with respect and be a good role model is important.

  11. What a fabulous concept, Renny! I can just see YOU doing this great service to the kids of today!!

    Thanks Ginnie – it was a great experience!!

  12. Great post. Yez, it’s without doubt a very important subject to teach, should be standard in all schools today! Then to really get them to follow the advices perhaps would be much easier. This is things that demands to be nagged and nagged over and over again until it’s stuck in the bones!

    I do agree and actually the principal asked me to come back for another session. Then we as adults have an important responsibility too you know.

  13. Hello Renny!

    Good job you did there Renny!
    Computer skills and Internet is really great only if used properly, if not it could be destructive too.
    Children need to be careful when using this medium to research as not all results are reliable.

    Great post you have here!
    Have a nice week!

    I do agree; so lets be a good role model and show proper use!
    Thanks – wish you a great one too!

  14. These are interesting statistics. I suspected France was pretty far behind in computer presence in school. In junior high school, they have a class called “Technologie” and they do all sorts of things like making key rings and pencil cases, and not enough computer work. In my opinion, it should ALL be computer and Internet based, because in high school there is no further computer education (unless you take a specialized track.)

    I think it was interesting too!
    I do agree: more focus on use of computers and the net is important to prepare the youth for the future.

  15. Thank you RennyBA for this post! Most excellent that you go out and teach kids what to do on the internet.

    And thank you for your post for Ruben : ) Very sweet.

  16. great advice Renny !!!
    your contribution to computer education must be greatly appreciated..
    I know with two teenagers ….it can be a concern…
    looks like you have a wonderful influence on the teenagers over there :)

  17. In my school where the grades are Kindergarten to gr. 8, we have about 2 -4 per classroom but then each class has a 40 min. time /week where they go to the library and a class set of computers are there so they each get one…but they aren’t laptops!

  18. sensible internet use? sort of my security awareness seminars i give to my officemates. i’m an information security officer, by the way.

  19. u’re right! i really can’t live without a pc/notebook nowadays. and those are some good advices for kids!

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