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Should schools better monitor student use of iPads?
June 4, 2014 - Andrea Johnson
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that the two 12-year-old Wisconsin girls charged with attempted murder of another 12-year-old had accessed fantasy websites using the iPads issued to them by their middle school.
I grew up watching and enjoying horror movies like "Poltergeist" and "Nightmare on Elm Street" without ever believing any of those scary stories were real. I've also always disliked attempts by parents and schools to censor materials online in the name of protecting children. But the Wisconsin story has me spooked. These two little girls were obsessed with stories about a fictional character called "Slenderman" who preys on children. They believed he was real and allegedly stabbed their friend 19 times in an attempt to impress him. The Catholic in me also does not entirely rule out the existence of demons. If they really exist, they are probably on the Internet too in this techie age of ours and are all too ready to take advantage of the young and mentally unstable. But even those who think demons are nonsense would have to acknowledge that very real evil lurks online.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel story notes that the school does monitor Internet usage in the classroom and that the site the girls went to did not contain any words that would have triggered any monitoring software used by the school. Schools all over the country are using iPads in the classroom as a valuable educational tool. The story can be found at http://www.jsonline.com/news/waukesha/in-wake-of-stabbing-shaken-parents-stress-need-to-monitor-internet-b99283342z1-261681351.html Given those facts what, if any, sort of additional controls should parents and schools exert over what their children are viewing on the Internet? Should kids that young be allowed to take iPads out of the school building and use them at home? Should kids who display a bit too much interest in dark subjects be referred for evaluation, even if in the process we inhibit some future Bram Stoker? What would you do differently?
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