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Should schools censor websites?

I’m going to state my opinion up front on this one: yes.  But it’s not as black and white as it seems.  There is a lot of “bad” websites out there: stuff you don’t want a teenager getting into.  Giving a student free range on the internet assumes that they have the skills to know how to use it.  This is not always the case.  It doesn’t mean they’re devoid of common sense; it means they can do the wrong thing but won’t necessarily. 

Youtube has some great teaching material on it.  You name it, there is probably a video on it.  Hulu can have some appropriate TV clips that may assist your learning unit too.  But these are often the first two cites to get blocked, well maybe 2nd and 3rd after social networking sites.  Yes, there is inappropriate stuff on these media outlets, but just because that’s so doesn’t make them all bad.  By completely blocking them students are missing out on an opportunity to learn something.

But then again schools have the responsibility to protect students.  And part of that responsibility is protecting them from information on the internet that they should not access or may be damaging.  There is a line between trusting your students and protecting them.  Students need some liberties in school but they also need parameters.  If you have a class of 30 students and they are all using computers there is no way to monitor what everyone is doing.  Obviously some form of monitoring is needed.  But maybe there is a middle ground that protects students and can allow for exposure to new information at the same time?  What if these websites were blocked and the teacher had an override code so that the students could see this information in class? 

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3 responses to “Should schools censor websites?

  1. ncallah1

    I agree, students should not have free range on the internet at school. I like the idea of teachers having an over ride code. If students are interested in obtaining specific information, the teacher can explore the website in advance and decide if the website content is acceptable for over ride.

  2. While I agree that censorship is sometimes necessary, I do not believe it has a place in the high school. Younger students in primary and middle school may need to be protected because they would be more likely to accidentally end up somewhere inappropriate.

    When high school students end up on the wrong site it is nearly always because thats what they wanted to look at. If censoring worked and could actually keep students from viewing these sites that would be great, unfortunately it fails quite often.

    There are a wealth of websites students can go on to easily circumvent the system. Schools try to block these websites, but once one is blocked another gets created. I believe its simply a waste of resources to be trying to keep up with the censorship.

    Instead, we should be teaching our students how to be responsible with the internet.

  3. Stephen Ransom ⋅

    I think I concur with Liz’s thoughts here. By the time students are in high school, they need the opportunity do demonstrate responsibility in this area… and accept any consequences for their unwise choices. By this time, they all know a few dozen proxy servers that they can use to circumvent any school filter, they have smart phones that browse content that does not even require school networks, and their life outside of school is largely unfiltered. Too often, filters are used to accommodate students’ behavior due to be bored out of their minds while at school. They become management tools rather than protective filters. Yes, I completely agree that teachers have (and some do) override codes to approve any filtered content. If we can’t trust teachers with the Internet, how on earth can we trust them with… children???

    Here’s something to think about:
    http://budtheteacher.com/blog/2009/10/03/would-you-please-block/

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