A bill will propose that social networking sites like MySpace be blocked. I’m all for the rights of schools to block access to anything that they feel detracts from the mission of education, but anything handed down by congress is likely to just be a distraction in itself. How broad would this be? Many of these sites are offer some of the best content on the web today.
Will the delivered-internet in K-12 environments be limited to established news and content providers. Isn’t the greatest value of the internet it’s ability to allow everyone’s ideas to be voiced, read, listened to, shared? If the government blocks what it may consider the ‘wild-west’ parts of the web, how is this different than the very thing that we criticize China for when it comes to the way that they deliver the internet. The internet is the ultimate forum for ideas and even propoganda of all ideologies and our schools offer a perfect environment for students to encounter these ideas with an opportunity to discuss them.
Of course I know that the reason people want these blocked is that students are not using these services in productive ways. They are bullying other students, being stalked by online predators, and sharing things online that are not responsible. Schools and their teachers do not have the resources to be sitting next to each student while they are on the web to guide them. SO – somebody ran to mommy and is asking them to just turn it off for everyone.
As with many bills, perhaps I can be glad that it has been proposed while I hope that it does not pass. The discussions have been happening, but must continue. The threats and distractions of the internet will continue to change and require that legislation be continually rewritten if we are to chase the issue this way. A much better use of everyone’s time and money would be to get serious about teaching kids early and often about the internet and how to behave responsibly on it.