Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Internet Censorship in Schools and Libraries

I read an amazing interview today featuring two tech specialists for the White Oak Independent School District, TX.  Michael Gras and Scott Floyd have what I consider the right idea on how to treat filtering in schools.  They don't cater to the system, they cater to the curriculum, the teachers, and the librarians.  I was surprised to read that they get a lot of crap from other school districts for doing that, but I feel it is the right idea.  They are providing a service for the school, why should they not listen to the people who use it on a regular basis?

American Library Association.  (2010).  Filtering: An Interview. Vol. 29 No. 1  Texas Style.  

Truth is, I am not against filters.  They help, a lot.  I have filters on my own computer blocking spyware and viruses.  Now from a technical standpoint they are very different things than filters, but they do the same function.  They prevent my computer from becoming infected with unwanted crap.  We don't want students in our school coming across porn from a simple search, and the sad thing is that can happen.  This is where filters are important.

But there is such thing as too much.  Blocking sites like Facebook and Myspace can hurt the students and teachers more than help.  Choosing what sites to allow through is important, and for that everyone should be consulted not just the teachers and principal.  I think the students should have a say as well.

But this does bring up a problem with the filters.  They look for specific things, things that can be present in Facebook and a porn site.  There is always going to be something leaking through and I think that is where the parents come in.

Parents need to teach their kids about internet safety.  Working at customer services places for the past few years I have seen nothing but parents leaving their kids alone and not communicating.  This needs to end.  I see so many parents not taking responsibility for teaching their kids what is out there and what to watch out for.  Instead they'd rather complain that the school isn't raising their kids for them.  Maybe that is unfair of me to say, and certainly there are parents who are not like that, but I have seen plenty that are and it saddens me.

But, like sex education, the school can also take on responsibility for teaching internet safety.  I personally think it is best for parents to do it but the most important thing is that it IS taught and that they are exposed to it.  There are parents who might not be adept at the web or too uncomfortable to teach them, I do acknowledge this.  

So in the end I guess I am saying is parents, teach your kids about internet safety or get them to someone who can.  The library, school, whatever.  They are going to be using the internet on a daily basis for the rest of their life.  It's time they got used to it.


Marilyn Arnone
Friday, November 11, 2011

Your response gets at the question of who is responsible for teaching kids about Internet safety. Parents, schools, and the community should all be responsible. It takes a village.

Monday, November 14, 2011

I think internet safety is exactly the sort of area where librarians can be important. Like you mentioned, not everyone is adept enough at the internet themselves to teach their kids, and I think this is increasingly an issue as kids grow up with a lot of technology their parents did not have and aren't used to. The same way that librarians should be teaching information literacy, they can be teaching internet safety, and it would be awesome if schools worked with their librarians or even with the public library to have them conduct a workshop or class on internet safety.


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