The Report :
New York Times’ article, “A Call for Opening up Web Access at Schools,” reviews the debate with regards to Internet censorship within schools. The burning question proposed: Are schools crossing a line when they block websites? At Silver Creek High School in Longmont, Colorado, students had a “graffiti debate” and wrote down both the pros and cons for online access. Phil Goerner is the Silver Creek librarian, and he chose to organize the graffiti debate in order to remind the students that censorship blocks a person’s voice from being heard, or in this instance, blocks students’ online privileges. A couple of years ago Silver Creek schools lifted the ban on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter when they decided the sites could actually provide opportunities for learning.
In the suburbs of Chicago, New Trier High School decreased its own restrictions on Internet filters earlier this year. Teachers had long voiced concerns about the policy’s increasingly oppressive presence. Judy Gressel, a librarian at New Trier, explained that because of the web site blockage, many students were having a difficult time conducting research. For example, entire categories of websites were blocked, including those that related to gaming, weapons, and violence. Students couldn’t even read a site about military weapons to complete a history paper for class.
The younger generation in school these days has never known a time without the Internet, let alone Facebook. The clash between generations makes sense because older policy makers used libraries and textbooks for research, whereas young students have found the Internet to be an integral part of their education. Arguably, people spend way too much time on the Internet anyway. However, banning websites at schools, while with good intentions, can severely limit students’ abilities to conduct quality research. Policies should revolve around teaching students how to use the Internet safely and effectively in order to accomplish what the students need. Finding that balance might be difficult, but cutting websites out all together limits students’ technological growth and ability to think outside of the box to complete research papers and presentations.
What do you think about banning websites in schools? Is it inappropriate? Do you think limiting social media sites in schools is a good thing? Share your opinion in the comment box below!