Has Your Child Hacked Your Computer Filters?
Has your child hacked your computer filters? They may have, but you don't know. If they have, there is a good reason behind why they would. They don’t understand the most important reasons for a filter. They believe the promotional materials that say, “Filters block web content, restrict the use of applications, restrict texting, and the length of time screen time.” They see the filter as a sign that says, “Do not enter.” All that does is peak curiosity. Our brains are innately designed to be curious. The filter is no more effective than caution tape that is blocking the shortest route to a place you want to go.
Children are natives to the internet and can bypass almost any filter. There isn’t a filter that is truly safe or 100% effective. Middle schoolers have figured out how to bypass the filter at our school and in their homes. Parents and teachers, however, are not always aware they have done so and are working under the misconception that their children are safe while working in their rooms.
How can we get children to stop tampering with filters? We need to share the most important reason for a filter. They see the filter as something that keeps them out, but the real reason is to keep unethical people from getting in. If they understood this, they would be more likely to respect the filter and actually want it. We need to educate our youth about the “Stranger Danger” found in the internet. They will see that a filter is not a punitive measure, but one that protects them from those who have unethical motives from accessing their devices, just like the locks on doors.
What is the “Stranger Danger” of the internet? The hard truth is there are several. Last year, I discovered they are lurking in innocent children's educational games, bullying them to make purchases. Advertisers target our youth because they are so naive. Pornographers wish to lure a new generation of customers. Sexual predators lurk in social media. Credit card and identity thieves are just to name a few. They want our data. They want to capture our credit cards numbers which are linked to every device we own. They want to shock and lure naive children for unhealthy reasons. Hackers create bogus websites to access such personal information and use it to commit fraud,
The best filter for children is education. According to the ALA, American Librarian Association, “It is better to tackle the problem of inappropriate Internet access with educational programs rather than restricting access. While the ALA understands that children should be protected from obscene and other potentially harmful website content, teaching children how to use the Internet correctly – and how to search for information – is viewed as a reasonable measure to limit harm. to block obscene images, child pornography, and other imagery that could be harmful to minors”(ALA reference: https://classroom.synonym.com/pros-cons-internet-filtering-schools-6916764.html).
I would use a filter because one is better than none, but not without educating children about why and how to navigate the internet safely. Knowing the internet advertising techniques and the neuroscience knowledge the device creators know and use to guarantee we will stay connected will be a better filter.
Changing perspective and education are the two ways children can be safe on the internet. With this education, they will grow to want and respect the use of filters.