United States: Is Filtering in Schools the Answer?

Is filtering in schools the answer? That's the question being asked across the United States. Although it is required by federal law to filter pornographic and other obscene content, many K-12 schools are choosing to also filter social networks, video sites like YouTube, sexual education sites, and other potentially valuable content, much to the chagrin of some educators.

A recent piece in Education Week focuses on school districts which have chosen a different route: educating students on digital citizenship. One school system profiled in the article, that of Trussville, Alabama, has taken that mantra a step further, maintaining Twitter and Facebook accounts and providing all of its 880 students with e-mail addresses. The school chooses not to filter sites like YouTube (at some educational levels) which - despite containing plenty of inane entertainment - contain a wealth of educational information.

As one teacher argues, "I’m a big advocate for experiential learning, but it’s kind of hard to teach Internet etiquette or rules of how to act and interact online without exposing them to the stuff that’s out there."