What Influences Children's and Adolescents' Understanding of the Complexity of the Internet?

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This study aimed at analyzing complex relationships among Internet use, Internet users, and conceptual understanding of the Internet. It used path models to examine factors related to Internet use (duration of Internet use, frequency of Internet use, and informal Internet classes) and Internet users (age and gender) in affecting understanding of the technical and social complexity of the Internet for 322 elementary and middle school students. The findings of the study indicate that (a) age of young Internet users had predominant effects on both the technical and social understanding of the Internet; (b) frequency of Internet use and informal Internet classes had small but significant effects on social understanding, but no effect on technical understanding; and (c) technical understanding had a unidirectional effect on social understanding. The implications of these findings for the implementation of the Children's Internet Protection Act are discussed.

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