What do do about Internet censorship?

This week, we had an interesting… speed hump… maybe more like, road block… in regards to the way we use the internet with our students. Basically, the outcome is a freeze on all internet use that is not approved by Executives until a Usage Charter has been formalised. How did this come about, you ask?

Many parents in our community have been scared and are scared of the internet. They don’t know what Facebook, Twitter, Blogger, My Space or Reddit are. For many of them, all they know is what has been reported on A Current Affair. In a nutshell, they believe that the use of the internet will ruin their child’s life and it must be hidden from them at all costs.

What if we did things differently?

Picture for me, if you will, the story of Sleeping Beauty.

Note some interesting things –

  1. The King rids the world of spinning wheels
  2. On the day of her birthday, Sleeping Beauty is left alone
  3. Naturally SB is curious and goes exploring (alone)
  4. SB finds a spinning wheel and, not knowing what it is, pricks her finger

Now exchange ‘spinning wheel’ with ‘internet’. Imagine if instead of ridding the land of spinning wheels, the king and queen had educated SB in the usage of spinning wheels  and in fact, SB may have even become proficient in the use spinning wheels. Imagine that instead of pretending there was no spell, the king and queen trusted and respected SB enough to tell her the danger. Imagine that on the day of the curse, the King had not left her alone but protected her.

Would she have been so curious? Would she have been so careless? It’s doubtful.

Part of my pedagogy is informing students about the internet, privacy, security and even cyber-bullying. I want them to know what’s out there and what the purposes are of various platforms. I want them to know how to ensure their privacy settings are high and I want them to know the permanency of submitting to the internet. I want students to ensure they have adults in their internet world.

We can’t stop children from exploring the internet but we can educate them. It is our duty to educate them.

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