Changing Attitudes of Adults (parents) on Internet-Related Risks for Young Adolescents
The project will address Internet safety issues with the aim to achieve an in-depth understanding regarding safety breaches and protective measures and actions, primarily within the family environment. For this purpose, a limited section of the Online Virtual Environment, Second Life, will be customized to host study teams who will be playing on the Internet and will be “exposed” to real risks in a controlled way. Project participants are expected to develop skills in recognising safety pitfalls and dealing with them as well as appreciate Internet Risks in their true dimension.
The very difference between real Internet-related risks and Internet-related risks as perceived by adults (parents) could constitute a new type of risk in itself. There is a similar difference between the means to deal with these risks and the means to deal with these risks as perceived by adults (parents). The conception adults (parents) have on what (their) children do when they “play” (spend time) on the Internet is largely based on ignorance; certainly experiential ignorance in that they have not “played” (spent time) on such activities themselves and often ‘literate ignorance’ in that they have not studied the matter. Media and church hype add insult to injury. Furthermore, there is a difference between the real attitude of adults (parents) towards their children (in general, and with respect to their children’s activities on the Internet) and their self-perceived attitude. There is a further difference between their real attitudes and the results of their behavior.
The project will study the attitude of such adults towards the fact that their children immerse themselves into video games (Second Life in particular). Specifically, the project team will study the change in attitudes of the adults regarding the activities of their children and the risks related before and after they had an opportunity to “play” along with their children for several months.
Target groups addressed will be parents (of 12-15 year old girls and 13-16 year old boys) who are teachers (preferably at high schools where they have pupils of the same age as their children) who will fall into specific, predefined clusters, along with their children. Each study team will consist of one or two parents-teachers with their one or more children / nephew and / or their friends.
Project outputs, products and results will include, among others, i) a customized area in the Virtual, Online Environment “Second Life”, ii) a portal supporting project work, dissemination activities and project participants, iii) recorded research on internet safety risks as perceived by adults and teenagers of the study teams and most importantly the possible change in attitudes before and after game playing. This research aims at concluding to a suggested methodology on an original approach in developing an Internet Safety Culture which could be used as a bases for learning material at various levels and in particular for teacher training.