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New Textbook to Protect Youngsters From False Web Info

Posted May. 08, 2009 08:18,   


A new ethics textbook for fourth graders will teach the dangers of false information spread on the Web.

The textbook’s authors said yesterday that they will include a couple of stories to vividly describe the risks of unfounded Internet information.

The importance of raising awareness over the danger of false Internet rumors was emphasized in May last year, when groundless information on U.S. beef imports widely spread on the Web. Rumors also swirled that schools would be closed to protest the imports.

Malicious Web rumors last year were posted about the late actress Choi Jin-sil’s alleged involvement in loan sharking, and forecasts on Korea’s economic prospects by the Internet pundit “Minerva” also made headlines.

While fleshing out the content on ethical issues arising on the Internet and proper Web etiquette, the authors described the potential damage that can be done by false Web information.

Dr. Yoo Byeong-ryeol, a professor at Seoul National University of Education and the lead author of the textbook, told The Dong-A Ilbo over the phone, “In the past, we put little emphasis on data authenticity in the Internet ethics section. In the wake of the nationwide protests against U.S. beef, however, the importance of authenticity has significantly risen.”

“We’ve focused on teaching elementary students not to blindly accept information they get on the Web.”

The new textbook will also inform students of the danger of malicious replies and encourage them to post “virtuous” ones, and how devastating personal attacks and foul language can have on individuals.

Elementary schools will teach this to fourth graders for three class hours in the second semester. Cho Nan-shim, a member of the textbook deliberation committee at the Korea Institute of Curriculum and Evaluation said, “Deliberation committee members have reached a consensus on the new content because they all agree that observing proper Web manners is more important than ever.”

The committee has reviewed the draft of the new textbook twice. After revision, the final version will come out at the end of next month. After being used in several schools on a trial basis, the textbook will be used nationwide from the second semester next year.

Jeong Hyeon-min, a senior researcher at the National Information Promotion Committee, said, “Trust is a prerequisite for communication, but collapse of trust will lead to social chaos,” adding, “Young children need education on proper use of the Internet since they lack the ability to discern good information from bad.

Jeon Sang-jin, a sociology professor at Sogang University, said, “From a young age, children should be taught to take responsibility for their actions and words.”

“We should refrain from teaching them by force, however. In addition, the scope of what is deemed false information should not be too wide.”

nex@donga.com bsism@donga.com