The report details three ways in which internet filters stunts learning opportunities.
1. Filtering hinders library patrons’ needs
“Given the sensitivity and privacy of health-related topics, for example, it is difficult to gauge how frequently adults are denied access to such information, as users may be loath to request that a website be unblocked or a filter turned off,” according to the report.
2. Filtering software blocks more than required by CIPA
Schools often tend to block all content to ensure that they meet CIPA requirements, but this results in many educational and informative sites ending up on the “blocked” list.
The report also notes that many schools use filtering software to address copyright and cyberbullying issues.
3. Too much filtering keeps students from developing and honing digital citizenship and media literacy skills
“Today, mastering these skills is vital for college, career, and overall life readiness,” author Kristen R. Batch notes.
This practice creates two groups of students: those who have unfiltered internet access at home and those without home internet access, who only have filtered internet access at school.
“Those who rely on public libraries for some or all of their internet access likewise are disproportionally affected by internet filtering practices,” the report says.
The report includes four suggestions to help students cultivate important digital citizenship skills despite internet filtering issues:
- Increase awareness of the spectrum of filtering choices
- Develop a toolkit for school leaders
- Establish a digital repository of internet filtering studies
- Conduct research to explore the educational uses of social media platforms and assess the impact of filtering in schools
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