Instead Of Filtering, How About Teaching Good Judgment?

from the just-an-idea dept

Whenever we see stories about internet filters in schools, the position taken in the article is often that they must be good, because there’s so much “bad stuff” out there. However, that ignores some important points: (1) the bad stuff is still out there, (2) much of it will still get through the filters and (3) the filters often block stuff associated with helping people deal with the “bad stuff.” In other words, in blindly believing that filters protect children, it can actually leave them less protected, by having them woefully unprepared when they inevitably come across more dangerous material. The Canadian Press is running one of the first mainstream articles I’ve seen that makes this clear, noting that, “Filters can’t give kids critical thinking and good judgment. We have to teach them those skills.” This isn’t to say filters should never be used in schools, but those who are using them need to recognize the limitations of those filters — and recognize that kids need to learn at some point the real risks of what’s online. If they’re simply told that there is no bad stuff out there, or that filters will protect them, then they won’t know how to deal with the bad stuff they eventually do encounter. This doesn’t mean to let them go off and surf a wide-open internet, but to have someone (parent, teacher, etc.) who can teach them some degree of skepticism and judgment about what they find online, and to realize that not all of it is good. Then, they can learn how to handle, not hide from, questionable content they come across.

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Comments on “Instead Of Filtering, How About Teaching Good Judgment?”

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BG says:

Excellent thinking...

Very good point of view that stresses value-learning. How can anyone learn to evaluate the good and the bad if the bad is left off the scale? Classes in learning how to weigh the media information one gets, in all media forms—not only the internet—should start at an early age and be a critical part of life’s progress. Lends new meaning to “question authority”.

BG says:

Smart kids...

Smart kids seem to get smarter with more independent thinking when they’ve realized that they can hack what the previous generation puts up…including being able to take out v-chips and circuit boards. It could be the basic challenges of confronting and surmounting obstacles and boundaries that comes with every new generation.

none of your bizzz (user link) says:


yall stupid mother fuckers think that blocking these web pages on school computers are going to keep us safe well yall r fucking out of your mind stupid and there is trouble and crime in this world with or with out computers so its not going to make a difference and porn we are all going to learn anout it well know fact idiots GET OVER IT

Anonymous Coward (user link) says:

caution, balance, care, and moderation

Today, authorities are ill-equipped, thank god, to truly censor the Internet. We need to make sure that stays that way, because that is important to prevent authorities from becoming too oppressive to everyone, not just kids.

Authorities don’t always do what’s good and right with the power and control that we give them. If you don’t believe me, remember the Nazis. Remember the extreme communists. Remember all the really awful things that so many governments have wrought, over the centuries, believing that what they were doing was for the best. If you think our authorities would never do that sort of thing, think again. Our founders knew that “power corrupts” and that “absolute power corrupts absolutely,” and we have got to remember that ourselves. We must never any single authority to become too powerful or too controlling.

So we need to be careful about making too big of a stink about proxies that get around high school filters and things like that.

But another thing we have to try as hard as we can to make sure of is that everyone understands that if things get too bad, if the stuff that goes on gets too extreme, authorities *will* become better able to censor the Internet. If the Internet doesn’t moderate itself, to some extent, it will eventually get effectively censored by authorities. And when that happens, our rights and freedoms will go out the window. So we’ve got to get a handle on some of the worst of the stuff that goes on. We’ve got to find ways to deal with the human traffickers, the child pornographers, those who brazenly and directly promote murderous ethnic rage and things like that, *without* giving too much power to any centralized authority. We need to make sure our kids are educated about all that stuff, long before they get exposed to any of it, so they aren’t caught off guard by it when they are exposed to it.

But I don’t think even measured exposure should be a part of that education process.

Kids who are exposed to porn at too early of an age, for example, are at a much higher risk of becoming really addicted to it and having it destroy their lives (by eliminating or dramatically reducing their interest in the rest of life, for example) and bring great harm to the lives of those around them. So we need to very carefully monitor and control their Internet activity (by allowing no access at all except when direct, closely watching, trusted adult human supervision is present) up through a certain age. Maybe around 12 or 13.

After that, well, if we haven’t successfully educated them about how addictions get started and the harm they cause, and we try too hard to stop them from catching a glimpse of something bad, then we’re in danger of destroying everyone’s rights and freedoms in the process of trying to create an environment that would be controlled enough to stop them.

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