A new report from the National Center for Education Statistics reports that 95% of US schools now have access to the Internet. School children are wired! Those kids born in the 90s are referred to as "the Clickerati" and growing up with a mouse in hand and a portal to an outside world never imagined before. Some believe that the next major social revolution will result when these Internet generation children mature. But, what will they be like?

According to a recent study released by the Stanford Institute for the Quantitative Study of Society (SIQSS), the Internet is creating an isolationist society where Internet users spend more and more time online and less time in social interactions. The study reports that more than third of regular US Internet users say that the Net has significantly changed their lives. The survey's findings indicate that the Internet is an "isolating technology" that could seriously damage the social fabric of communities
as users interact less with other people. The survey also found that the longer a user has been online, the longer time they spend online. Does mean that online kids are turning into socially dysfunctional beings, lack social skills, and are unable to relate to the world beyond their keyboard? Jakob Nielsen, the Internet use expert, has commented that the old definitions of "personal contact" do not hold in the Internet era and that chat-rooms, message boards and email are very important points of contact.

From the 4113 adults from 2689 households SIQSS interviewed, 25% of the respondents who spend more than five hours a week online say they now spend less time with family and friends or socializing outside the home.
60% percent watch less television and 33% spend less time reading newspapers. The access to profanity, pornography and violence online has alarmed parents, teachers and advocacy groups who struggle to create filters and other ways of protecting children from adult content.

This is nothing new. Television, movies, videotapes and print media have offered adult content before. The truth is that parents bear the responsibility to guide their children away from violent, unsafe and profane images and content.
No amount of censorship can ever make up for parental control, concern, and intervention.

The Internet allows children access to educational information and an opportunity to learn and communicate with people worldwide unlike any other medium we've
ever experienced. This wealth of information is presented in exciting, interactive sites that invite participation from children in a whole new way, and are much more engaging than most classroom presentations.

We can respond to this technology with fear or with love. Should we choose to, we can allow our children to explore the Internet by giving them guidelines to protect
their privacy, safety, security and steer them away from adult content. From lap surfers to full-fledged Clickerati, they don't need to be exposed to gratuitous violence, hate sites, pornography or online predators. As a matter of fact, I'm not sure most adults want to be exposed to those either.

Author's Bio: 

Ranny Levy, President, Coalition for Quality Children's Media: Taught at the elementary, middle school and university level. From 1980 - 91, Levy produced and marketed educational media. Since 1991 Levy has served as president of CQCM. Ms. Levy is a frequent speaker on children and media, presenting at Vice-President Gore's Family Re-Union IV: The Family and The Media Conference, Video Software Dealers' Association Convention, the National Governor's Association Conference on Quality in Education, the Head Start Research Conference, and Marketing to Kids Report. She is the mother of two children ages 26 and 28.