Saturday, June 09, 2007

Children and the Net

A lot of kids are getting online these days--sharing data about acid rain,talking about social issues, meeting adults as well as kids, and learning about other cultures. Computer networks hold tremendous promise, but also raise difficult issues which need to be discussed openly. Unfortunately, much of the publicity related to these issues has only dealt with potential dangers--and it has not encouraged reflection on solutions.

Can children be prevented from accessing materials which are controversial?
Is preventing access even desirable? We believe censorship is not the answer.
What alternatives do we have or could we provide? How do we talk with children about these issues? What can we say to concerned parents and school administrators? How and by whom are community standards set?

The stakes are clear: if we don't find ways to manage these difficult issues, parents and school administrators may choose to deny children access to networking in an attempt to protect them. And prohibitions against undirected exploration through networking could prevent many of the benefits which the technology could support. We hope to form a community of people interested in discussing these issues and developing helpful materials.

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