A school in Michigan has decided to ban its students from having a MySpace account. Period. End of statement. They can’t access the site from school, and next year, they’ll be signing an agreement that they won’t access the site at home, either.
In this day of children being babysat by the television and the internet, I’m certain students will completely comply with the agreement.
I’m personally horrified by this decision. The school has decided that it has the right to control the students’ lives outside school. While their intention is good, the execution is going to prove much more than the school can handle.
If they really want to protect their students from the evils of MySpace (and the rest of the internet), the answer isn’t banning. It’s teaching. The first step is to teach children how to be safe online. The second is to teach them how to evaluate the people they meet online. (The third is how to evaluate the information they find online, but that’s an entirely different rant.)
When you arm someone with a reason, give them the capability to analyze situations for themselves, it’s amazing how often you can prevent most of what you were trying to block. Children feel less likely to rebel against what they feel are pointless rules, so teaching them gives them the concrete purposes for a rule and helps them understand why the boundary exists at all.
Children can be fairly rational, reasonable creatures when they’re given that opportunity. It’s actually part of how they grow into rational, reasonable adults.