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Newsflash:
Thursday, 14 September 2000

Blocking Internet Sites

Written by  Toby Klein Greenwald

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QDear WholeMom,

What is your opinion about the schools blocking certain sites on Internet?

A

This is not a question that can be answered in a vacuum and the question of censorship of the media is not black and white. A lot depends on the general approach of the family or of the school. It is easy for schools to block certain sites on Internet and perhaps that's what should be done because even if kids can get to it elsewhere, it is sending a subliminal message from the school: this is not acceptable to us. The kids know it exists anyway. I don't believe they will be more inclined to do it because the school blocks it and I think the school does not have to be shy or apologetic about its values. But it should be a topic that teachers discuss with their students openly, along with discussion of values and self-censorship in other areas.

Then there is the question of the family and how the parents, like teachers, train children to develop their own sense of values and self-censorship. Logistically, Internet is more accessible to kids than magazines. To buy a porno magazine a kid would have to go through the following steps: 1) obtain the money, 2) find a store that sells them, 3) make the purchase and 4) find a way to hide it from his parents. The average kid probably just won't bother. Many families also block inappropriate porno channels on cable TV. I don't think the average kid will go out of his way to find someone who gets those channels.

But Internet is more problematic because the child just sits down at his desk and - bingo, he's in a porno site and nobody knows it. I think each family has to make a decision based on how they deal in general with censorship of the media. I believe that, while setting down guidelines, the parent should explain why he is setting down these guidelines, discuss it with the child and show his child that he respects him and expects him to develop a sense of what is appropriate viewing (reading, surfing) for him and what is not.

There are no guarantees in child-raising, but I think that, as a rule, when dealing with teen-agers, meaningful education is accomplished through communication and respect, not coercion. Naturally, there will always be exceptions when the parent puts his foot down. That's okay too. Giving a child respect does not mean abandoning our responsibility as parents to give the child direction and hopefully the child has been raised with clear-cut boundaries but in an amiable atmosphere.

Children also learn through personal example. Parents who are discriminating about what they read, view and surf and who have a good relationship with their children have a better chance of raising kids who will develop similar values.

-WholeMom

Last modified on Tuesday, 14 May 2013 15:03
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Toby Klein Greenwald

Toby Klein Greenwald

Toby Klein Greenwald, Executive V.P. Creative Development, is a founding partner and the editor-in-chief of WholeFamily. Toby is an educator, journalist, photographer, scriptwriter, poet, playwright, lyricist, and theater director, including for populations that have experienced trauma or are at risk. She is a Playback Theater conductor and is the recipient of Israel's Ministry of Education's Egerest Award for Culture, for her work in educational and community theater. She has more than 30 years of teaching experience and has served on numerous educational think tanks. Her specialties include the creation of innovative educational programs, and teaching Creative Writing and Film to AD(H)D and LD high school students, and to senior citizens. Toby is married to Yaakov and they have six children, most of whom have made her a proud mother-in-law and grandmother.

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