Restricted access : young people, online networks and school
There are some good reasons for prohibitive policies that restrict the Internet use of young people but we need to consider how prohibition can affect those who might already suffer from social inequalities. In 2008 the author surveyed young people's Internet access in nine urban, rural and remote regions in Queensland, and analysed how 75 teenagers living in these places were using Internet-based networking environments in their everyday lives. Almost all of the participants liked to consider themselves technologically savvy, but the fact is that most were not and had exaggerated their skills when they completed the author's questionnaire. The author also found that there were vast differences in levels of ICT access at home and in Internet provision and broadband uptake. This led her to think about the vital equalising role of computer and Internet access in schools, but when she looked at education policies and practices, however, she found that when an online network became popular the typical response of Education Queensland was to block its use in state schools. The author argues that these sorts of policies serve to widen social inequalities and that the new opportunities that ICT affords are being unevenly distributed. [Author abstract, ed]
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