Thursday, January 15, 2009

Another potential topic relating to intellectual freedom but not in a library (unless you count my ragtag assortment of art history, Italian language, library and information science, pregnancy and childraising, cookbooks, "romantic mysteries," and travel books as a library? If so, I would call it the Campbell Clan Library and finally buy the personal library kit I've been dreaming of for years but too embarrassed to buy!)...Wait, where was I? Another potential topic for this blog!

I'm starting to wonder if I'm censoring my son when I use the Internet filters on our new "family" computer. He's 4 1/2 and already a whiz on the computer (in October, he taught his Grandma how to use a laptop!). Mostly he just loves to play preschool games on the Noggin website or other educational games on cd-roms. He doesn't really "surf the Internet" so to speak, although sometimes he likes to search YouTube for free music videos (he loves the Beastie Boys).

In any case, I set up the Internet filters in order to avoid any accidental nudity, violence, etc. from creeping in because that seemed like the right thing to do. I know that ALA's position is that parents need to monitor their children's materials and decide what is best for their kids, what they can handle, etc. And that's what I'm trying to do but really I don't know if the filters are worthwhile, worth the effort, or accomplishing anything. First of all, I deliberately placed the computer in the living room so I could see and hear what he is up to so I would know if he were looking at "naughty" things. Then again, a pop up or a link to website containing nakedness isn't going to be stopped by my presence in the room...

Truth be told, I find the filters to be a pain because they often block or flag perfectly acceptable "kid" websites so I have to authorize every game, video, link, etc. that my son wants to access. And, believe me, he doesn't have a large attention span so having to perform these authorizations every two minutes quickly gets old. I've set up separate user accounts on the computer so this doesn't really affect me when I'm using it but still... I liken it to having the babysitter call you constantly when you are out on an infrequent date night- what's the point if you have to babysit the babysitter...?

Ultimately, I am pretty sure that I am going to remove or lessen the filters I've set up because I just don't think they are worth the extra effort right now. I think the most important thing is that I maintain an active role in my son's screen time, monitor what he is doing, and talk to him about what activities are acceptable or not. Maybe in a few years when he starts to notice things like girls, etc., I'll change me position. For right now, I'm going to fire the babysitter and take over the entire job for myself...

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