about Ethical Computer & Network Usage for Parents to Discuss With Their
M. E. Kabay, PhD, CISSP-ISSMP
Professor of Computer Information Systems
School of Business & Management
As computing technology becomes part of daily life, parents
must communicate their values to their children if we are to avoid a lost
generation of kids who have no moral guidance in their use of computers and
networking. The following questions are deliberately offered without answers so that parents can
think about them and discuss them constructively with their children. Rather
than trying to force rigid rules devoid of reason on young people, perhaps
parents can think about the issue and engage in constructive dialog with their
own children to build a shared moral framework. These questions may also be
useful in classroom discussion. Parents, teachers, and students should feel
free to use and adapt them to their own purposes.
Respect for intellectual property rights
- Are all the programs,
games, music, and videos on your computers, game consoles, music players, and
mobile phones either paid for or legally free? If not, how did you get
involved in copying such materials without paying for them?
- Where did the contents of
your report / project / homework come from – does any of it belong to someone
else, such as another student, a paper you downloaded from the Web, or
something you found on a Web page?
- If you copied text and
images from another source, did you have permission to use them? If you
didn’t need permission from the “owners” of the information you’re using,
did you credit them for the material?
- Have you or your friends
ever considered buying term papers from a store on the Web? Tell us about
Respect for other people’s property rights
- Do you ever use other
people’s computer, disk-space or processing capability, or look at or copy
their files or information, without their knowledge or permission? How?
- Have you or friends of
yours ever signed on to (i.e., hacked into) computers that belong to
companies or government agencies without permission? When did you start?
How many times have you done that?
- Have you ever changed
anything on someone else’s computer – for instance, left a funny picture
or a joke, or removed content such as homework or some other file? Tell us
about that. Where did you learn to do that kind of thing?
- Do you have any prank programs, computer
viruses, worms, Trojan horse programs, bombs, or other malicious software
on your computer? What do you do with this material? Why?
Respect for social values
- Do you have any computer
graphics files, clips, movies, animations or drawings that you would be embarrassed
about? Why do you have them? Did you get them legitimately?
- Are all your files things
you would be comfortable showing me? Showing your grandparents / friends /
teachers? Why or why not?
- Do you have any pictures,
video clips, sound clips, articles, text, or other software or files which
contain pornography, violence, dangerous instructions other distasteful material?
Do you access or view any of these kinds of things when using the Internet?
- Are you aware that
making, owning and distributing child pornography – images of kids engaged
in sexual acts – are federal crimes? Has anyone ever showed you child
pornography? How did you respond?
- Do you have any
newsletters, plans, guidelines, or “how-to” documents or files about
violence or criminality that you would not be comfortable showing to your
parents? For instance, making bombs, breaking into systems, stealing telephone
access, stealing computer access, stealing passwords, violent text,
guides, or descriptions? Do any of your friends create, contribute to or receive
anything like this? Do you? Why?
Questions related to network use
Do you ever connect your computer to a telephone, use a
modem, or otherwise use a network? If so, consider the following questions:
- With whom do you
associate when you use the Internet? Tell me about your contacts.
- Do you ever use an
assumed name, a handle, or an alias instead of your real name? Where and
- Do you supply false
information about yourself when using a bulletin board, a news group, a
message group or forum, a social-networking site, instant messaging,
Twitter or any other aspect of the Internet? Why?
- Do you give your real age,
sex, and address to strangers you have met online using your computer? Has
anyone ever talked to you about Internet safety when meeting strangers
online? What do you know?
- Do you use any false
information such as a fake addresses or phone numbers or use someone else’s
credit card number when using your computer? Do you ever send messages or
e-mail in such a way that the recipient cannot tell that you sent it? Have
you ever modified data, text, messages, or other computer information so
that it looks like someone other than you created it or made the changes? Who
told you about doing such things? How long have you been doing them? Have
you stolen money
- Do you use telephone,
video, cable-TV, computer network, bulletin board, or other chargeable
network services without paying for them?