In the early days of the Internet at my school students surfed the web without the limitations of filters. I constantly had to make sure students were on task and not looking at web sites about Beavis and Butthead or the Simpsons. Then I found a student on a web site that contained pictures of people who had been killed in a variety of different ways. He was showing it off to some other equally immature ninth graders. A couple of students displayed a little distress at the images. At that point, I found myself an avid promoter of filtering.
Ten years later it seems like it is going too far. I understand the concern regarding the tons of inappropriate stuff “out there” in Internet land. As a parent myself, I certainly don’t want my kids to access to this stuff. However, where does it stop? My district just recently blocked Flickr, a site I’ve been using for both personal and school-related photographs. I have made links from my world history web site to photographs taken at school. We will be starting up a big project focusing events around the world from the last 20 years or so and I was going to point my students to Flickr to view photographs of some of these regions. So why did it get blocked? Well, Flickr has evolved into one of the higher quality photography sites and some users have included nudity in their online libraries. This raises another host of questions, is nudity porn? Or does that not even matter in a high school setting? We do live in a society where sexuality is demonized, but violence is cool.
So I’m frustrated. Should we block less and monitor more? Teach correct Internet usage better? Or just accept losing the THOUSANDS of appropriate, helpful, and educational photos of Flickr and videos of YouTube in exchange for alleged safety (sounds a little like the Patriot Act). Throw in the fact that even the moderately tech savvy kids can easily find a “proxy” server at home to get around filter at school. So where are we at?
Anyone else facing filtering issues at school?