To filter or not to filter…that is the question.

There is a constant debate between whether or not schools should be filtering content on their computers, and as with any other debate there are extremists on each side. There are arguments that discuss overblocking, and underblocking, and still others that say filtering is doing the same thing as communist governments did. Then there are others that say it is necessary to save children, youth, and even adults from unnecessary content. But what is the answer? Is it right or even beneficial for students  to have the content they can access filtered? Is it empowerment when we don’t filter their internet access, and teach them proper etiquette?  Why can’t we find a happy medium instead of drifting from one extreme to another?

One side of the argument says that we need to filter content in an attempt to keep students safe, from much of the inappropriate content on the internet. However, I think that many schools take this too far, and they start to over block their computers. Many schools block so much, in an attempt to keep their students safe, that they make it hard for students to learn how to use the computer, and also makes it harder for teachers to incorporate technology into their lessons.  By over blocking and by filtering much of the internet content to students and teachers alike, the schools are teaching students to be afraid of what is on the internet, and they are doing their students a disservice by not giving them the necessary skills to be safe when on the internet. If students are continually sheltered from the internet, and from the content, not only are they not learning how to be safe, but they are not learning how to use it in a positive way. Students need to learn how to safely navigate through the internet, to find the information they are looking for.

 

However, on the other side of the argument teachers and parents alike argue that, especially young students, need to be protected from all of the horrors on the internet. They don’t always see the benefit in using the internet, and other sources of technology to increase student learning. I understand the desire to keep children safe, and I think that, if taught incorrectly, using the internet could be a very dangerous activity for children. However, to deny students the ability to use the internet is to hinder them from being prepared for their futures.

I believe, that the internet and technology are both important factors used in teaching. Not only do they allow students to gain a larger worldview, but they also open up doors to a lot more information, and social networks that students would have have access to otherwise. While I do support using technology and allowing students to use the internet, I also think that they need to be taught netiquette. Students need to learn how to keep themselves safe on the internet, but they also need to be taught how to use and build their social networks. In younger grades I think that internet use can be kept to pre-chosen websites, and as students get older they should be granted more access and more ability to use the internet.  I think that by drifting to one extreme or another, concerning filtering is limiting students. However, if we can teach them a balance, they will be more successful, and more prepared for their futures.

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About Aimee Cronan

I am a Pre Kindergarten to Grade Three Pre-Service Teacher at the University of Regina View all posts by Aimee Cronan

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