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e-Safety Education for All Children!
Avoiding the Four Dangers of the Mobile Phone Society

Hiroyuki Tanaka
Professor Faculty of Education and Integrated Arts and Sciences Waseda University

The dark side of the mobile phone society threatening children

Internet crime involving children is increasing in today' s mobile phone society. There had already been illicit activity that was hard for adults to detect spread deep and wide underground, but recently, through malicious use of Internet bulletin boards to post threats of murder and bombings, harassment has come to cause unrest in the community as well.

Children get mobile phones that come with Internet access, initially out of a slight curiosity or as an escape from what they see as a humdrum daily life, which proves to be a gateway into very dangerous territory where they are exposed to a range of Internet crimes. Further, based on the unfounded assurance that I won' t be caught if I commit these acts, or the unfounded anxiety that if I don' t bully others, I' ll be bullied myself, the awareness of the criminality of these acts tends to dissipate, which causes the incidence of Internet crime as well as the number of Internet victims to increase.

Now is the time for e-Safety Education

photo 1 A British middle school student making an animated recreation of Internet bullying

As the number of children who have mobile phones has risen to 40% of elementary school students, 70% of middle school students, and 90% of high school students, e-Safety Education is vital in order to protect children from the myriad mobile phone dangers to which they are exposed.

e-Safety Education refers to training involving participatory activities by which learners can learn experientially about the potential dangers of the Internet-accessed through mobile phones and computers-including crime and health hazards that have tragic results. This educational training fosters the crisis management abilities that children need to ensure that they become neither victim nor perpetrator of Internet crimes in our advanced information communications society and its attendant Internet dangers.

The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology officially established similar new curriculum guidelines: Information and Morality Education, but this alone is not enough to protect children from the onslaught of Internet dangers.

England, on the other hand, is a country to learn from at the forefront of e-Safety Education. They have implemented e-Safety Education throughout the entire community in order to develop a proactive sense of judgment in all children who are involved in activities on the Internet.

Following the lead of the British government, organizations such as the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP), a police investigatory cross agency working with the department of education; Becta, a research institute dealing with educational technology; Childnet International, a non-profit publisher of educational materials, and others work with the Ministry of Education and local boards of education to promote e-Safety Education. In addition, schools are beginning to formulate regulations for Internet use on campus, implement an Internet Safety Day, hold discussions incorporating DVD learning materials, and install campus networks with monitoring and filtering functions.

photo 2 An anti-Internet bullying campaign poster made by students at a British middle school

When we say not to make children perpetrators of Internet crime, we mean that in the Internet society-including mobile phones-it is easy for minors to break the law. They can cause psychological harm to anyone at any time in the virtual world, which can lead to physical harm and sexual harm, as well as property theft and other crime in the real world as well.

Next, when we say that e-Safety Education ensures that children are not victimized, we mean the following two points. The first point is that we must foster self control in children so that they avoid all of the various temptations online as a preventative measure against harm on the Internet. The second point is that, in the unfortunate event that one becomes a victim of Internet crime, the perpetrators are identified, the incidence of the crime is minimized, legal means of pursuing compensation for damages resulting from Internet crime are enhanced, and counseling methods through institutions such as police, the educational administration, and counselors are well understood in advance by children along with their guardians.

e-Safety Education broadly classifies the types of Internet dangers and Internet crime that children must be aware of into the following four areas aiming to include it in the curriculum.

Figure: The classification of four primary types of Internet danger used in e-Safety Education

By classifying the dangers and crimes on the Internet into four types this way - as 1) Internet bullying, 2) Internet addiction, 3) Internet traps, and 4) Internet fraud - we can see just how varied and complex the dangers that threaten children on the Internet are.

It is clear, however, that simple restrictions such as children cannot have mobile phones on campus, or children cannot buy mobile phones do not truly solve the problem. This is because even if children are not allowed to have mobile phones on campus, the fact is that they are free to use them at home or on the street, access the Internet, and encounter the dangerous temptations that are available there. Also, even if minors are prohibited from buying or owning mobile phones, they can easily find ways around the prohibitions, just as they do with the prohibition against minors smoking. Minors can negotiate with their parents or adult acquaintances to let them use their mobile phones, access communication sites using home computers or Internet caf辿s, and arrange to meet with adult strangers.

Seven Articles of the Mobile Phone Safety Manifesto from the Japanese Society for Internet Safety and Morality

As Chairperson of the Japanese Society for Internet Safety and Morality, I am creating the following Seven Articles of the Mobile Phone Safety Manifesto in order to spread and promote e-Safety Education. Through this kind of fundamental policy, I plan to deepen and broaden practical research going forward, and I encourage support and cooperation from all fields.

(1) Adults are responsible for protecting children from the dangers of mobile phones and Internet crime, including Internet bullying, Internet addiction, Internet traps, and Internet fraud.

(2) Technologies such as security and filtering software are a must in order to protect children from these threats.

(3) It is most essential that we as a whole society-comprising school, home, and local communities (including administration and carriers)-implement e-Safety Education systematically and deliberately.

(4) In addition to conventional information and morality education, it is vital that we foster in children an awareness of the dangers of the Internet society, self-control, and a proactive sense of judgment through e-Safety Education.

(5) We cannot prevent children from becoming either perpetrators or victims of mobile phone danger and Internet crime simply by increasing prohibitions such as no purchase allowed, no viewing allowed, or no mobile phones allowed.

(6) We must implement e-Safety Education through which children can gain a clear and concrete understanding of the dangers of mobile phones and Internet crime and develop their own standards by way of participatory activities and workshops to foster a sound sense of judgment, criminal case study analyses, and legal consultations.

(7) In order to spread and promote e-Safety Education, we must establish an interdisciplinary cooperative system incorporating not only the field of education, but also medicine, psychology, law, software engineering, and criminal sociology.

Reference URL

Japanese Society for Internet Safety and Morality : http://isams-j.org/


Tanaka, Hiroyuki The Future for Children in the Mobile Phone Society, Media Island, 2009

Hiroyuki Tanaka,
Professor on the Faculty of Education and Integrated Arts and Sciences at Waseda University

Biographical summary
Professor Tanaka was born in Kitakyushu City, Fukuoka Prefecture in 1960. After graduating from the Tochiku Koto Gakko Prefectual High School, Professor Tanaka entered Osaka University in the Department of Human Sciences, and went on to do his doctorate in the same department, where he served as a teaching fellow. From 1990, Professor Tanaka worked as a Lecturer, Assistant Professor, and Professor at Osaka Kyoiku University, and he has been at his current position since April of 2009. Professor Tanaka is a member of the Exploratory Committee on National Academic Achievement, Survey Analyses of Learning Contexts, and Promotion of Activities at the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology.

Primary Works
Thirty Practical Skills Developed Through Interdisciplinary Studies (Meiji Tosho, 2000)
The Academic Achievement Revolution of the Finland Method (Meiji Tosho, 2008)
Fostering General Academic Achievement in Children (Minerva Shobo, 2009)