It’s not often a close friend posts something wildly silly (and no, I’m not going to say who, but they know they are), but I was so incensed reading the article that I thought I’d write something myself.
Now, as a teacher, I’ve been increasingly annoyed by the 11-13 year olds who have Playboy pencil cases, and the 15 year olds whose career pathway includes lap dancer, and the 10 year olds at Gosport who are happy singing songs in public that would get them in front of our Child Protection Officer at school etc etc etc. I’ve also had to help kids with body image problems – the fact that they compare themselves with others is no surprise (teenage life!), but when those others are airbrushed and photoshopped it creates an impossible goal that drives teenagers to despair, and violence either against others or themselves. Anyone who deals with kids on a regular basis knows this, and often feels powerless against the huge riptide of pressures.
So when this survey came out (and a fuller version here PDF) I thought “hooray”. Something needed doing to allow parents to parent their children; to lessen the rampant words and images that bombard our kids hourly, and the survey set out some of these ideas.
This story, a few weeks later, mentions some of these ideas.So, stopping certain posters near to schools may not be a massive step, but at least it reduces those images and pressures. Reducing other pressures in terms of banning some TV adverts before the 9pm watershed, some music videos, and assisting parents with IT are other ideas.
Today’s story, that caused the furore, is here. My experiences of parents’ evening, and one to ones, have shown me that most parents are utterly clueless when it comes to IT: they have no idea of virus checkers; have no idea of how to check simple things like internet history; and have an idea that precious offspring in bedroom, surrounded by DVD, TV, radio, iPod, Xbox, PSP and laptop will, of course, be doing nothing other than their homework. These experiences have been gathered over two decades of teaching, and I suggest that the overall situation is getting worse each year. So, when the suggestion comes in that, at point of internet subscription parents are asked if they want to bar adult sites, then surely this is a good idea. This will help parents, who feel (yes they do) overwhelmed by the technology.
Now, there are going to be problems. Of course there are. I’m a Biology teacher, so I know intimately the issues of rubbish filters (ever tried getting a video of a sperm cell? Impossible.) I would hope responsible porn owners would switch to have the .xxx domain, and this would be a simple way of filtering. That would remove some sites. Other sites, towards the softer end could also move to .xxx as well. Naive? Maybe. Perhaps I have an idea that if owners run their sites for *adult* entertainment, then they may cooperate to try to limit access by kids.
Having an open screen policy (educating the parents) would also help, and build good internet practise (I just had a thought of the public information films from the 60s…)
One thing I do know is that such a move, aimed at helping parents, is not censorship. It’s not going to cause fathers to beat their wives. It’s not going to turn men into raping monsters. If anything you could argue the reverse. I was interested to read this article recently and watch this. And from there you can move to this site, which demythologises some of the silliness that exists (yes I’ve done sex ed, so yes, I’ve heard some pretty silly things). And for more silliness, there’s this, and the more concerning ‘salt to a thirsty man’ idea that is suggested here.
There will always be sexual imagery whether it’s carved on Hindu temples, painted inside the houses of Pompeii, or in books like Justine by the Marquis de Sade. You only have to hunt for ‘Rubens’ in Google to find voluptuous lovelies. However, there is a difference between a ‘once in a while’ and a constant bombardment; and a difference between an adult experiencing these, and a child. Anything that limits the input that a child can stumble across has got to be a good idea.