Education Ministry: Children Should Not Use Social Networks
Israel's Education Ministry on Monday issued an advisory imploring parents to forbid children under the age of 13 from using social networks - like Facebook.
According to the Internet World Usage website, at least 71.6 percent of the population in Israel was connected to the Internet as of 2010, and has one of the highest household broadband penetration rates in the world.
There is fierce competition to deliver gaming services as well as social networking offerings, "creating a tempting array of new experiences for the eager young mind," according to Hana Levi Julian, a clinical social worker with a psychotherapy practice who works with children and teens in Jerusalem and southern Israel.
"Most families are not really aware of just how enticing -- and addictive -- the Internet can be to young people," she said, "or for that matter, even to the adults themselves. The parents stay online reading their email and scanning the news sometimes for hours, never realizing their kids are watching all the while, and picking up the behaviors they model.
"As they grow up, they emulate their parents. When it's their turn and they get in front of the monitor, they don't necessarily just focus on researching the homework of the day. Parents don't have time to constantly watch them, and it is easy to de-fang many of the filtering programs with a bit of creativity and effort -- and most smart kids have a lot of both."
Julian warned that a high IQ does not necessarily translate into wisdom, however, explaining that parents need to be on the lookout for predators hunting for potential new targets.
"The problem is, even teens don't always realize that the new person on the other end of the chat room or the "friend" they've just hooked up with on their social networking site may not be who they say they are," Julian pointed out. "That can be dangerous."