Internet: Source of Promise or Concern?
Picture this scenario: A person stands in the middle of
Central Park and hands out pornographic material to anyone who wanders
by, including children. If this actually happened, not only would
passersby alert the police, they would probably intervene themselves
to put a stop to it.
Yet this scenario exists right now on the Internet. Sexually explicit
material can easily find its way onto your children's computer screens
-- even when they are not actively seeking it out. According to
a survey conducted by the National Academies, one in four children
reported at least one unwanted exposure to sexually explicit pictures
during the past year, and one out of five reported receiving a sexual
"Child pornography is a major concern of ours," said Christopher
Kerr president of FamilyAccessOnline.com, a family-oriented Internet
service provider. "State and federal laws prohibit people from
handing children pornography, and all but seven states prohibit
the possession of child pornography. Why should it be any different
in cyberspace? Where do we draw the line between reality and the
Internet?" The Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA) was
set to go into effect in April 2001, but didn't due to intervention
from the ACLU and the American Library Association.
A National Academies report suggests that there is no single approach
-- technical, legal, or educational -- that will be effective for
protecting our children from inappropriate sites or solicitations.
And, cutting off Internet access altogether is not a viable option.
A powerful and valuable tool, the Internet has the potential to
enhance education and provide recreational outlets for children.
While technologies such as filters can be helpful, they are not
sophisticated enough to sort through the growing diversity of channels
that may expose children to inappropriate content. Filters often
prevent people from reaching worthwhile sites, and don't block out
many objectionable ones, particularly those with violent images.
Most of these filter options focus on blocking visual images while
overlooking written portions of Web pages.
Courtesy of ARA Content
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