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Business News (more headlines) 05-26-2004

New Survey Shows That Teens Are More Likely To Illegally Download Than Tweens

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Tweens are less likely than teens to download copyrighted commercial software and other digital media (music, movies and games) through illegal, online file-sharing networks, according to results of a new Harris Interactive poll conducted for the Business Software Alliance (BSA). Three percent of tweens said they have illegally downloaded software while 33 percent of teens admitted to the practice. The results indicate that ethical attitudes toward copyright law are significantly weaker among teenagers, pointing to a need for more education.

The nationwide opinion poll asked more than 1,000 youth, ages eight to 18, about their attitudes toward copyright laws and Internet behavior, including uploading and downloading copyrighted files through online peer-to-peer (P2P) sites.*

In comparing the tween (ages eight to 12) and teen (ages 13 to 18) age groups, the behaviors and ethical attitudes toward illegally downloading software are strikingly different:

* Tweens are less likely than teens to believe that it is okay to download (16 percent vs. 38 percent) or upload (18 percent vs. 37 percent) software.
* Tweens are more likely than teens to worry about getting in trouble with their parents (50 percent vs. 11 percent) for illegally downloading copyrighted files.
* Tweens are less likely than teens to say that they know people who have downloaded files for free that they could have bought in a store or online (51 percent vs. 90 percent).

"The gap in behaviors and ethical attitudes from the tween to teen years indicates a critical need to educate younger kids even earlier and provide them with guidance that will positively influence their growth as good cyber citizens and their respect for digital copyrighted works," says Diane Smiroldo, vice president of public affairs for BSA.

The study also indicates that tweens have less of an understanding than teens about the copyright law and the dangers associated with illegal Internet downloading. Tweens are less likely than teens to say that there are laws against illegally downloading software (40 percent vs. 61 percent).

"It is clear from the results of this study that by the time our young people are teens they are more likely to download software and other types of digital copyrighted media," said Smiroldo. "Parents and teachers need to work together to emphasize to our young people the importance of using computers and the Internet safely, as well as respecting intellectual property."

In an effort to guide parents and educators in teaching children about respect for digital works online, BSA offers parents, teachers and students a variety of materials and tools on cyber ethics, including its curriculum, "Play It Safe in Cyber Space." This popular curriculum was co-produced with children's publisher Weekly Reader and is available for free at www.PlayitCyberSafe.com.

"Not talking about ethical behaviors is like shooting yourself in the foot," says Dr. Diane DeMott Painter, a technology resources teacher in Centreville, Va. Painter, the recipient of BSA's Cyber Education Award for 2003, was one of the first Fairfax County teachers to use the cyber ethics curriculum with her fifth and sixth grade students. "I am delighted that BSA provides free instructional materials that I now use with my students to help them understand about copyright and cyber ethics."

"I think the curriculum made an impact on my students," said Bertha Nenque, a fourth grade teacher at Santa Maria Elementary School, Laredo, Texas. "They were surprised to learn that copyright laws apply in cyberspace." When describing her experience teaching BSA's cyber ethics curriculum, Ms. Nenque said, "The students look at it as a game, yet they are learning and will remember the material."

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