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Online Life Can Be Convenient as Well as Dangerous

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students texting after school

Jasmine Goldband / Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

The rapid growth of technology and the cyberworld has made today's youth excellent technological multitaskers, and created entirely online businesses, but cyberspace also presents dangers to unwary users.

Nielsen Online and the International Telecommunication Union estimate that 1.6 billion people, 23.8 percent of the world's population, were Internet users in March, up from 16 million people, or 0.4 percent, in 1995. The rapid growth of Internet users in virtual worlds is primarily due to teenagers and people in their 20s, says Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) Human Computer Interaction Institute professor Robert Kraut. "Younger kids are too technologically unsophisticated to know what to do, and older people in their primary earning years have too much stuff to do," Kraut says. "And retirees, though they no longer have too much to do, have difficulty changing habits and learning technology." Kraut says the sweet spot for introducing technology and networking sites is college-age students, who want to stay connected to old friends and quickly make new ones.

"People are basically spending or living an increasingly large percent of their lives in cyberspace," says CMU Mobile Commerce Lab director Norman Sadeh. "Whether it's email or other channels available through the Web, clearly there is a demand among people for sharing more information."

However, virtual worlds can be dangerous. Sadeh says people want to share information but they are learning that it is unsafe to be completely open about everything.

From Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
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Abstracts Copyright © 2009 Information Inc., Bethesda, Maryland, USA


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