I've been reading an article this afternoon “New AIM Worm may Prove Tough to Exterminate” and it brings me back to a point I've been writing on heavily for several days.
How do people get the AIM worm?
The worm, known as W32.pipeline, propagates when AIM users click on a Web link that appears to have been sent to them by someone on their buddy list.
They receive a message along the lines of, “Hey, would it be OK if I upload this picture of you to my blog?”
If the recipient clicks on the link, an executable file that looks like a JPEG will download into a Windows folder…
The best defense is for AIM users to be wary of clicking on links. If a user receives an unexpected link from a buddy, the user can always reply to ask if that person sent the link, to make sure it is legitimate.
Who Instant Messages?
Not suprisingly, a Pew Internet study conducted in 2004 found that 42% of Internet users use Instant Messaging, with 37% of those using the Aol Service. The study also found:
- 21% of IM-ers in each of the Gen Y and Gen X age groups log onto IM several times a day, followed by 17% of Trailing Boomers (40-49), 15% of Leading Boomers (50- 59), 10% of Matures (60-68), and a mere 9% of the After Work (69 and older) age group.
- 35%, or the largest portion of those who IM for about an hour are Gen Y-ers. In contrast, the greatest percentage of instant messengers who IM for less than 15 minutes consist of Trailing Boomers (26%).
So, not suprisingly the younger people are IM'ing more than others.
Whether we like it or not, IM is a valid, important communication medium to over 1/4th of Americans in the workforce on a daily basis. In fact, if you look at the study, you will find that those who are better educated and make more money, use it more often that those who are not.
People must be educated about how to be safe online. It is a fact. It is here!
It is time to stop gripe-ing about text-ing, IM-ing, surf-ing, wiki-ing, and blogg-ing, and start CHANGE-ing and TEACH-ing!
If trends continue, the students in your classroom right now will be using IM even more than the Generation Y group. Do they know netiquette? Do they know about IM safety? Wiki etiquette? How to disagree effectively on blog conversations? How to blog? How to e-mail?
The need for us to teach effective online communications
Just as we teach students to look us in the eye when they talk to us, we must teach them effective online communications. If students do not e-mail us, how can we teach them not to use IM speak? If they do not wiki, how can we teach them not to treat it like a joke?
Every communication medium can be used to communicate ANYTHING. It can be used for great good as well as great evil. I have found that ignorance leads to evil uses, so if we're unhappy with what kids are doing online right now, look at their knowledge base and see if it is from not knowing any better! (Most often it is!) It is time for parents and teachers to flood into online spaces and train up our children online!
Stop fighting it and use it for good!
It will be interesting to see the extent of this new online threat and how the ignorant will be the ones who are exploited. Ignorance has always lead to poverty and this is just another example of how ignorance of IM safety will cost the ignorant money.
Are your students learned or ignorant about online safety, privacy, and success?
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