Teacher Tap

Filtering Tools and Issues

Can I prevent my children from finding porno sites? 
I'm concerned about some of the ads that appear on the top of the screen when using the web. What should I do?  
What are the issues related to the pros and cons of filtering information found on the Internet?

filterParents as well as educators are concerned about the quality of the information that students access on the Internet. From inaccurate facts to pornography, there are many websites that are inappropriate for children. You can't shelter students from the world. Even the most strict filtering software miss many sites you might find offensive.

One of the best ways to handle this concern is by closely monitoring the websites that students use. Rather than letting students "surf" the Internet, provide structured learning activities focused on specific websites. A WebQuest is an excellent example of this type of activity.

eyeRead Protecting Teens Online from the Pew Internet & American Life Project. Be sure to read the entire study available in PDF format. What are the implications of their findings?

Pros and Cons of Filtering Software

The Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) is a federal law established in December 2000. This law imposes requirements on schools and libraries that receive funding from the E-Rate program. Participants in this program must install Internet filtering software otherwise their funding is lost.

Many organizations including the American Library Association feel that filters limit free speech.

eyeRead Why Filters Won't Protect Children by Nancy Kranich from Library Administration & Management, vol. 18, number 1, Winter 2004, pp. 14-18.

Librarians and many educators feel that banning websites is censorship the same as banning books. Others feel that filtering software restricts free access to information that is essential to help young learners become critical users of the Internet. Some school boards feel more comfortable using filtering software. You decide.

Keep in mind that you may not even realize that a filter is in place. For example, Google's moderate SafeSearch Filtering is the default option. Go to the Google Preferences.

The following articles and websites will help you learn more about filtering software issues. Read the article from the ACLU titled Censorship in a Box. Also check out the American Library Association's page on Filtering. Also, check out Peacefire's concerns about blocking software.

Explore the following resources related to filtering.

Explore the following websites that provide filtering systems.

Selection of Quality Online Resources

An alternative to filtering are programs designed to help teachers and librarians focus student attention on quality websites. For example, consider products such as Nettrekker and WebFeet. These subscription-services provide access to quality websites for young people.

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