Japan schools look to teach online morals, safety

Japan schools look to teach online morals, safety
Teacher Makoto Jinnai teaches students of Ushizu Elementary School about how to properly use the Internet in Ogi, Saga Prefecture.

Schools across the nation are redoubling their efforts to teach students rules and ethics for their use of the Internet.

Until recently, this kind of education mainly focused on preventing minors from accessing harmful websites.

Nowadays, however, education experts agree on the importance of instilling a sense of online ethics early on, to prevent young people from engaging in behaviour such as inappropriate use of documents, academic papers and other sources, as well as the questionable posting of photos to the Internet.

Municipal Ushizu Elementary School in Ogi, Saga Prefecture, offered its sixth-grade students lessons on how to properly use the Internet in April, in the form of a lecture during their moral education class.

Teacher Makoto Jinnai, 54, first led students in a discussion about the positive and negative aspects of cars and gasoline. When he asked the same kind of question about the Internet, one student volunteered, "I can search for knowledge I want," while another said, "I can copy sentences other people wrote."

Jinnai said, "If students think about the Internet in the same way they think about other things around them, they can understand that it has both good and bad sides, depending on how it's used."

Jinnai is a director of IT Support Saga, a Saga-based nonprofit organisation that aims to maintain Internet environments appropriate for children.

The NPO has worked with local university students on a variety of projects, include staging plays with such complicated topics as "What should be done if a book report copied from the Internet wins a writing contest?"

The NPO has also produced educational videos.

This fiscal year, the Ogi municipal board of education will work with IT Support Saga to draft and implement a plan for teaching Internet morals in each school subject at all primary and middle schools in the city.

At the Kamakura Jogakuin Junior and Senior High School in Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture, an similar effort started last fiscal year. High school students lead lessons on Internet morals for middle school students.

The high-schoolers take around six hours of classes to build a foundation of knowledge as part of the school's information sciences classes, which are taught in part by experts from information technology companies.

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