Censorship and the InternetThe Internet is the fastest growing and largest tool for mass communication and information distribution in the world. People use the Internet for communication, expressing their opinions, or obtaining unlimited information access. Nowadays, the issue of wether is it necessary to have censorship on the Internet is being argued all over the world. Censoring the Internet can protect children from strangers, filter unpleasant material and prevent young people imitating negative behaviour. However, it is apparent that filtering the Internet is against the freedom of information, anti-educational and it is difficult to develop people’s ideas and views. This essay aims to discuss the issue of restricted information on the Internet. It will be argued that censorship of the Internet interferes with people having a broad range of ideas, views and experiences.
It could be argued that Internet censorship might protect children from interacting one-on-one with strangers on the Internet. Children are innocent, so they often trust stranger who they talk with via the Internet. According to National Opinion Poll (2000, cited in Allbon ; Williams 2002:1), for the sake of receiving free samples, gifts or information or even to start up a friendship, one third of 7-16-year-old Internet users would give out their home address. Furthermore, a study by National Academic Press (2002:3) indicates that chatting with strangers is the potential harm to children because online chatting might lead to real meetings between children and strangers. Some serious consequences might threaten children. Countering this, children need more freedom because the age in which parents want to protect them is passing./ children’s age growth,parents would better give them more freedom on internet acorrding children’s own will rather than protect them compellingly.
In support of this idea, Buckingham (2000, Cited in Quigley ; Blashki 2003:3) stated that parents cannot isolate their child forever from the society. Parents should have the confidence to prepare them to face problems, to deal with it and to become more active participants in their right. If children were protected by the Internet censorship, they would not have the opportunities for collaborative study with other people via the Internet and making friend. Hence, children do not need to be protected as they are old enough to know right and wrong.
Another aspect to be discussed is the material. Those in favour of Internet censorship claim that it can block out objectionable material. There are many unpleasant materials such as hate speech and overt racism, violence and pornography. Researches by Allbon et al. (2002:3), these unpleasant materials are easy to be accessed by accident or design; many young Internet users feel unpleasant because they have accessed inapposite material. However, it can be seen clearly from MORI (2000, cited in Allbon et al. 2002:2). Parents were convinced that their child has never been upset by something seen on the Internet because they trust that their child can use the Internet sensibly. A majority of young Internet users were against the censorship of the Internet. “No, I don’t need protection because I feel we are going to find out about violence and pornography sometime, so why not now?” quoting by one 14-year-old (Allbon et al. 2002:3). In addition, it is difficult to do research if blocking material. Most people believed that the free speech was far more important than blocking unpleasant material./ most people do uphold that free speech was much more essential than blocking useless material. Allbon et al. (2002:3) asserted that the internet provides unrestrained and near-infinite variety of information for teaching and learning. Thus, it could be seen that censoring the Internet is anti-educational because it prevent students to access certain materials that it is important and relevant to their learning.
Lastly, some supporters contend that Internet censorship could avoid young people to imitate negative behaviour. According to National Research Council (2002:4), many parents worry that young people are probable to do dangerous or harmful things due to browsing violent and sexual websites. Against this, it is necessary to consider the development of children’s ideas and views. Quigley et al. (2003:14) clearly supports this idea. Parents and the government should help young people to develop their ideas, not to increase the level of secret. Therefore, it can be seen that young people should learn how to recognize violence and pornography and avoid them. Parents need to assist young people’s development instead of keeping inapposite material in secret.
In conclusion, this essay has examined the issue of censorship of the Internet. It has been argued that the Internet should not be censored as it restricts people having a broad range of ideas, views and experience.
References : Allbon, E. ; Williams, P. (2002). Nasties in the net: children and censorship on the web. New library World volume 103 Number 2002 pp. 30-38 Copyright MCB University Press ISSN 0307-4803Blashki, K. ; Quigly, M. (2003). Beyond the boundaries of the sacred garden: children (1) and the Internet. Information Technology in Childhood Education Annual. p309(8)Expanded Academic ASAP Int’l Ed. La Trobe University Library Infotrac, Article A102137570Full text on-line: Available from Accessed 19/11/2004National Research Council (2002). Youth, Pornography, and the Internet. D. Thovnlurgh & H.S. Lin (Eds) Committee to Study Tools and Strategies for Protecting Kids from Pornography and Their Applicability to Other Internet Content, Computer Science and Telecommunications Board. Washington D.C. National Academy Press