Monday, June 6, 2011

Blocking and Filtering Leaves Our Children Behind and Unprepared

Photo from
In his post today, Tom Whitby asks How do we fit the policy to the need? in relation to the issue of internet blocking and filtering.  He explains that when we create a sterile, artificial world in schools we are not adequately preparing students for a real, unfiltered world. 

Here's a nugget from the post. 
"Access to, and understanding of the internet is becoming a needed skill if one is to compete in a technologically competitive society.  The sooner we educate our children to be responsible digital citizens, the sooner we can hold them responsible for their actions. Internet awareness must begin on the elementary level. We cannot hold children responsible for that which we have not taught them. Education is the key to safety.
Filtering eliminates the ability to teach children to be responsible. It may allay the flamed fears of parents which are fanned by software companies and TV producers, but it does nothing for preparing kids for the technologically competitive world in which they must live, compete, survive, and thrive. The educator’s job is to prepare kids for the world in which the students will live. It is not the world in which the educators lived. It is not the world in which the kids’ parents lived. It is the world yet to come. There are many pitfalls and safety precautions kids must be aware of, and that cannot be denied.
Teaching rather than blocking is a better strategy to defend against these pitfalls. Fear-mongering to parents may sell software to schools, and build big TV ratings, but in the long run it does not address the issue. We cannot educate kids about content that is filtered and blocked."
You can read the whole post at this link

Tom has a great audience as well so don't forget to check out the comments too.  There you will find nuggets like this.
"We don’t allow IT and the legal departments to make decisions on textbooks and other classroom materials. Why should they make decisions about the internet?"


  1. I understand the theory behind it. But we do you do when a popup reveals a naked woman or another explicit ad to a 9 year old. That is innocence you can never get back.

    To me, the purity of my son is more important. I can train him morally and ethically without exposing him to inappropriate material to "test" him.

    I know that is not how our culture thinks these days though.

  2. Trevor, I have not had such a popup revealed to me in the past five years. This does not mean that it is not possible, but it isn't something that generally happens online these days.

    Of course you can ban, block, shield children from everything good and bad, but as this post touches on and others elaborate upon the biggest dangers are in the home, playground, and/or with those we trust the most.

    The answer is not to cut children off from the world or lock them up and hide them away in the name of safety.

    Instead adults can be guides by their side to ensure children are empowered to be safe and responsible.

  3. This post reminds me of a quote that floated past me on Twitter the other day. I don't remember it exactly, but it went along the lines of:

    We don't teach our children water safety by keeping them away from water until they're 18 then throwing them in the deep end. So why do that with Internet safety?

  4. This post is so timely. Since the Internet will be a major part of these students lives, they need guidance in order to learn how to use it properly.

    My district blocks so many things that the teachable moments are lost.