Sunday, March 21, 2010

Filters: Two Insider's Views

A pair of articles on Internet Filtering in public schools appeared this morning (3/21) in the Miami Herald.  The “pro” article (click here) points out the problems caused by filters in a school setting, while the “con” article (click here) points out the benefits of filters.  What makes these interesting is that they’re written by insiders, high school students who are directly affected by the filters.

The “con” article, praising the benefits of internet filters in schools, makes no mention of pornography. It focuses entirely on the distractions and problems of social networking sites like “MySpace, Twitter and Facebook.”  The student writer points out that these distract from school work and can provide an opening for cyberbullies and online predators, all of which students are better off without.

The “pro” article makes no mention of the social networking issues. It focuses instead on the difficulty in obtaining educational information in a filtered environment, and on the weakness of the filters.  The writer points out that “a search for websites on sexually transmitted diseases is practically futile. Even some sites on breast cancer are restricted,” and that important resources “like Google Images are completely blocked off.”  The article also points out that some students are finding ways to bypass the filters, relying on computers outside of school, installing proxies inside the school, or using outside computers to search the web and deliver the resultant screen images to a school computer. 

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