As if we didn’t cover them enough in class, the One Laptop Per Child program has some major flaws. However, one glaring flaw of the program is its complete non-mention of safety guards for children on the internet. This article specifically sites that one of the OLPC leaders admitted that safety had been overlooked. Let that sink in. When creating a program to help children in developing countries what was overlooked? Durability? No. Language Barriers? Of course not. Safety?…Oops.
Kids enrolled in the OLPC program and given the only semi user-friendly laptop are given the internet access with not only no previous exposure to the internet/internet culture, but no background in internet safety. In schools all across the U.S.A. children are taught in middle school about the dangers of chatrooms, giving out your personal information and meeting strangers online. When children in the OLPC program encounter these threats without previous knowledge of not only how to deal with them but the fact that a 40 year old man saying he wants to be “special friends” is in fact a threat!! This is not to say that “stranger danger” is a uniquely western concept, but the idea of internet safety should not be. Introducing internet services without safety training is introducing a new realm of threats for the children using these laptops and leaving them woefully unprepared.
Unfortunately, the OLPC leader did not say anything with regards to fixing the blatant incorporation of child safety in the program.