When I was in school, my parents allowed me internet access only through the highly-restricted “kid-safe” mode of AOL. This filter blocked not just “adult” sites, but also independent news sites, bullitin boards for programming and scientific discussion, technical and educational resources and so on. It got to the point where I was lagging behind my peers in school on some projects because I was unable to access the same breadth of research material. I social engineered the password out of my parents and used this to elevate my account to full access. This allowed me to learn about programming and science independently, which allowed me to enter summer courses on programming at a local college, which allowed me to get into more competitive universities, which allowed me to get a higher quality undergraduate degree, which allowed me to make it to the place I am now in life. Attempts to block “adult” content online too easily extend to blocking all manner of information a young person needs to access for authentic personal development, and to grow into an informed, technologically, culturally, and scientificially literate, adult.
the whole thing makes the assumption that children can’t handle porn, that porn MUST be hidden from children. they assume a harm without having actually SHOWN there IS a harm.
the only thing you need to protect your child from online is himself. teach him to protect his information: don’t share his name, location, age, or picture whenever possible. try to keep people from finding out where he lives. things like that. let em know how easily someone can find them and some of the dangers out there (i got this talk when i was young from someone online, not my parents…)
if you can have them use linux; if you can’t, then teach them how to avoid viruses and how to reformat their computer (i had to reformat a LOT as a kid)
and most importantly: get out of their way.
Rather than trying to block porn, schools should introduce a mandatory curriculum called something like, “Pornography and You.” Make it as dry, tedious, and condescending as possible, and avoid any sort of sensationalistic anti-porn hysteria. Be sure to include lots of quizzes. Nothing sucks the fun out of illicit behavior like turning it into a lesson plan.
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