The internet has completely changed the way we work and live, but for those of us having children it can be hard to understand how different life has become for them as information technology natives.
Having some shoes that could be pumped full of air was the deciding factor of our social status in school at one time, but what are kids thinking about today? Kakurega Komyo is an IT worker in Japan who caught a glimpse of this life while setting up the internet in someone’s house.
One day, Komyo was setting up an internet connection for an office when she was approached by a female worker. The woman began telling her how her home didn’t have internet access and she was worried that her five-year-old son wouldn’t fit in with the other children who did. Although it was not a part of her job, Komyo took pity on this woman’s case and agreed to set up her internet free of charge.
When she arrived at the woman’s house, a young boy called, “It’s the internet person!” He then asked Komyo, “Lady! Teach me how to listen to music! For Free!”
At first, she thought he was talking about YouTube, but the boy seemed very specific about free music downloads to put on his iPod, so Komyo figured he was talking probably about a download site such as the Pirate Bay.
“If you do the police will come and take your mother away,” she told the boy. However, they child was insistent, saying, “If I don’t download free music, I’ll get bullied! Everyone says they listen for free at school!”
Although she wasn’t being paid, Komyo still considered this to be her job and didn’t want to endorse any legally risky activity to this family. She set up the internet connection and showed the mother how to use iTunes to purchase songs. “Here is where you buy music,” she said to the son.
“I listen to music for free and the police will take my mother away? If the police knew the other kids were doing it, wouldn’t they take their parents away too? Is that right?” he wondered.
Komyo didn’t know what to say to that but left without teaching him how to access free music. She thought that if everyone in his school was really infringing copyrights and downloading music for free, then there ought to be some sort of net education going on to set them straight.
Online reaction of the anecdote was not especially lenient. “The parents are bad,” complained one person, while another lamented, “Music downloading has become so normal now that people don’t feel any guilt. What a sad story.” Several other commenters felt the next generation was spoiled and how this was the beginning of the end of Japan, as well as suggesting Kyomo go to the police and report those students.
However, not everyone was immediately against downloading copyrighted material, writing: “After reading this story I’m kind of tempted now.” Others felt sympathy for the boy and his classmates asking how elementary school students are supposed to know about intellectual property law.
Since 2012, Japan has held strict laws against downloading music and infringing on copyrights. As a result, those convicted may face jail time or up to 2 million yen (US$25,000) in penalties.