SOURCE: Thinkronize

November 07, 2007 08:00 ET

Study: Internet Dangers Increasing, Say Most K-8 Educators

New Research Commissioned by Thinkronize Shows That 62% of Principals and Library Media Specialists See Danger on the Internet Increasing; Porn, Predators Both Seen as Dangers; Four Out of Five Worry That Internet Searches Give Useless, Irrelevant Results

CINCINNATI, OH--(Marketwire - November 7, 2007) - Sixty-two percent of educators see the danger on the Internet increasing, with pornography nudging out predators as a leading online danger for students.

A new study aimed at principals and library media specialists reveals that 45% rated pornography as a great or significant danger, while 43% gave predators the same rating. This second annual study, "Schools and Generation 'Net," was conducted in October 2007 by Interactive Educational Systems Design (IESD), an independent research firm, and commissioned by Thinkronize, Inc.

Educators also worried about the quality and relevance of sites students find on the Internet. Seventy-nine percent expressed concern about useless or irrelevant search results. Seventy-eight percent expressed concern about students being redirected to commercial or pay sites.

"As the Internet grows and becomes more ubiquitous and commercialized -- and kids continue to be bombarded by masses of information -- the challenge of finding useful educational content without encountering the insidious dangers will increase," said Thinkronize CEO Randy Wilhelm. "Filters, training and safe and contextually relevant search engines, like our netTrekker d.i. search engine, are critical tools for educators to keep the Internet a welcoming and incomparable educational resource for our digitally native kids."

Another significant problem is students' ability to judge online information sources critically -- an important aspect of information literacy. When asked to rate the information literacy skills of their students, only 4% "strongly agreed" that students were equipped to think critically about the accuracy, authority and possible biases of the information sources they encounter, with the rest expressing responses in varying degrees of uncertainty. And, when asked about the teacher's role, 88% "strongly" or "somewhat" agreed that teachers need additional professional development in this area.

"The old adage, 'don't judge a book by its cover,' has a new depth in meaning," said Dee Jae Arnett, Library Media Teacher, Sam Brannan Middle School, Sacramento City Unified School District. "The Web is creating a new front of concern as it is a place where anyone can post content that may be inaccurate, biased and even dangerous. It is vital that we teach our students how to evaluate sites and be critically aware of the ways they are being targeted for potentially dangerous and commercial purposes."

Despite educators' concerns, the survey results confirmed that they value the Internet, with 90% rating it as an "excellent," "very good," or "good" educational resource. Over one-third of respondents (35%) reported that "almost all" teachers in their schools use the Internet regularly for instructional purposes. And 81% "strongly" or "somewhat" agreed that student searching on the Internet has been integrated into the curriculum.

Virtually all the educators report that their schools or districts are taking actions to protect students. The most common precaution that schools take is to install filters. A majority of schools also rely on providing information to faculty, students and parents. However, only about one-third have purchased and installed special search engines. Specific actions taken to improve students' Internet safety included:

--  Installing filters - 97%
--  Giving students instructions on safety - 79%
--  Giving faculty instructions on safety - 75%
--  Providing parents with tips and information - 56%
--  Purchasing special search engines - 32%
    

This survey of 954 principals and library media specialists was conducted online in October of 2007. It has a margin of sampling error of 3.09%.

About Interactive Educational Systems Design (IESD)

IESD is recognized in the educational technology and publishing communities as a leader in research and analysis, and instructional design consulting. IESD conducts research on educational issues, programs, and products (both technology and print-based) -- and provides a variety of consulting services related to program and product development, evaluation, implementation, and marketing. IESD's clients include education publishers, technology hardware manufacturers, government agencies, non-profit institutions and school districts.

About Thinkronize

Founded in 1999, Thinkronize is a leader in the digital delivery of K-12 educational content and is dedicated to enhancing the education of today's youth with highly effective technologies that deliver the rich educational value of the Internet to every child in a safe, relevant, easy-to-use format. With the mission to help every child learn and a belief that technology can transform education, Thinkronize was first to market with a standards-based educational search engine, utilizing the services of Academic Benchmarks (www.AcademicBenchmarks.com), the premier provider of comprehensive standards-based K-12 educational databases, alignment tools and integration products. Thinkronize's flagship product, netTrekker d.i., is the #1 educational search engine in K-12 schools and is currently used in over 19,000 schools nationwide. The company's consumer product, netTrekker home, gives parents and students whose school or district has not yet purchased a netTrekker d.i. subscription access to its 180,000+ educator-selected resources. Peers, educators and parents have honored Thinkronize and the netTrekker product suite 24 times for their contribution to education. Most recently, netTrekker d.i. was named the 2007 Best Education Solution in SIIA's CODiE award competition. In addition, Thinkronize was named to the 2007 Inc. 5000 and 2006 Inc. 500 lists as one of the fastest growing private companies in the United States. The company was founded by Robert Reinders and currently serves over 10 million students in all 50 states, including adoptions by key districts and states nationwide. For more information visit www.Thinkronize.com or phone 877-517-1125.

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