Banning Social Networking… Again?

Lori Reed writes:

What I am really here to say is that it’s important to educate children so that they can make smart decisions in any circumstance.

From USA Today:

Congress is considering a bill that would bar children who use computers in public libraries from accessing Facebook and other social networking websites without parental permission.

This has to be one of the most ridiculous things I’ve heard recently.

First, how will we define “other social networking websites” when pretty much every site is becoming a social networking site? Has anyone in Congress heard of Web 2.0?

Second, how does this teach children to think for themselves and make smart choices? We cannot block every site where a predator could be lurking just as we cannot place children in a bubble when we send them out the door to school every day.

As librarians and library staff we have to advocate for educating our public officials, the media, parents, and children about the real dangers of the Internet – ignorance.

If you haven’t yet take a look at the ALA Libraries & the Internet Toolkit. Most of the content is dated 2003, but it is still relevant.

From the USA Today article:

Rep. Mark Steven Kirk, the Illinois Republican who sponsored the measure, says the proposal would keep sexual predators from contacting minors who are using a library computer.

But the American Library Association says Kirk’s bill is yet another attempt by the federal government to interfere with library users’ privacy and free speech.

“If people in a community do not feel confident that their privacy will be protected, they cannot use the library as it was intended, for intellectual pursuit,” said Emily Sheketoff, who heads the association’s Washington office. “It will intimidate them.”


A few thoughts:

It makes me sad this this type of legislation comes from Illinois, one of the most progressive states for library innovation IMHO. Why are folks like Kirk not talking to librarians in the state to get a clearer picture of what this type of ban would mean to libraries and library users?

Why oh why do we always jump to “Ban this” and “Don’t Allow that?” – yes, libraries do it too!

I agree with Lori Reed; the key is education education education.

For more:

Banning Flickr

Thoughtful Advocates