Internet filters block our education
Did you know that in our school, we are not allowed to research the effects of violent video games on children for Social Studies; post a story about learning to play baseball on a class website in ELA; and read about breast cancer in Health class? The filtering software that controls how the Internet comes into school does not allow us to look at pages with words like “video game”, “baseball” or “breast. These rules may be meant to protect us from dirty pictures and wasting time but really they just make it hard to find out what we need to know. School districts should change their Internet filter settings so that they block only less important information. Schools should concentrate instead on teaching their students to be smart web users.
Internet filters make it hard for students to do online research for school projects because the websites they need are blocked. For example, at Murray Burgtraum High School in New York City, a school that was evacuated on September 11th because it was so close to the World Trade Center, students tried to write research papers on terrorism. They found that the web filter did not allow them to see any pages that included the word “terrorism”. (http://www.wired.co/culture/education/news/2002/09/54632). Their social studies teacher, Mr. Elfrank-Dana said, "To have students constantly thwarted and denied access to a legitimate link is extremely frustrating." This happens a lot. According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation (http://www.oreillynet.com/onlamp/blog/2002/09/internet_filtering_hurts_those.html), schools that block the Internet use the “most restrictive settings” that “block up to 70% of search results based on state-mandated curriculum topics.”
Internet filters may do a good job of keeping out access to important information but they don’t protect students from the sites the schools really don’t want them to see. Since the filters make it so hard to...