After reading about Conservative MP Joy Smith’s pornography filter idea on the CTV News site, I decided to respond to her and David Cameron (he’s the British PM, you know). You can read about Smith’s plan here. You should also watch the video and read the comments; very entertaining.
Dear Joy and David
I think it’s great that you’re trying to protect the children, but back off, will you? It’s not your job; it’s my job as a parent.
I don’t have any problem with using legislation to keep illegal content off of the internet. I do, however, have a huge issue with government trying to keep objectionable content off the internet. You see, only I can determine for myself and my children what is objectionable. You can’t, my neighbours can’t, my community can’t, … only I can make that determination. You are heading into territory that smacks of censorship. You are advocating that government make moral decisions for citizens. You have no mandate nor right to do this.
Personally, I have no objection to pornography, as long as it depicts one or more consenting adults. I do object to any content that depicts or promotes racism, intolerance, Brussels sprouts, animal abuse, child abuse, elder abuse, Michael Jackson, Justin Bieber, spousal abuse, honour killings, violence against women, anti-gay sentiment, anti-pro-choice sentiment, … there’s a long list of things that I find objectionable. However, as long as it’s not illegal, leave it out there and let those of us with a couple of functioning brain cells decide for ourselves whether or not to check it out.
You mention that you’re proposing this to protect the children from pornography (among other things). Are you really certain that it will work? One of the issues is that parents aren’t actively filtering what their children can see when connected to the internet. What makes you think that applying a filter, which can be turned off, will change this? If Mummy or Daddy want to see naughty-naughty on the computer, they will turn the filter off and chances are that any kids using the computer will be able to view naughty-naughty because Mummy and Daddy haven’t set up the appropriate controls at the DEVICE and USER levels.
If Mummy and Daddy were smart or pro-active enough to set up the controls in the first place, the filter you propose would not be necessary. If they’re not smart or pro-active enough, the filter you propose won’t be effective because they’ll turn it off to view naughty-naughty and never control things at the user and device level.
Parents need to be more actively involved in what their children are doing online and offline. I have three children, two of whom are old enough to be computer users. I have taken the time to set up parental controls for each of them, and to monitor what they are doing online. This doesn’t mean that nothing gets by what I’ve put in place; it means that I am aware of anything getting by and I can adjust settings when I have to. It means that I actually talk to my children about their online activity. It means that I educate myself and my children about spending time online. It means that if my children come across something that disturbs or confuses them, whether or not it’s sexual, we discuss it as a family. It means that my wife and I take the time to have frank, age appropriate discussions about love and sexuality with our children. It also means that my children have more to their lives than just the internet.
Active, informed parental involvement, coupled with managing internet security settings (it’s not that hard and there are plenty of free resources and tools) will do far more to protect children from seeing porn on the internet than instituting a nanny state filter could ever hope to.
Joy and David, thanks for trying, but spend taxpayer money where it makes more sense. Education, healthcare, anti-poverty measures … these and many more initiatives can use all the money they can get. I’m fully supportive of doing whatever can be done to rid the internet of illegal content and bringing the purveyors to justice; but when it comes to censoring content that is legal, stay out of my house and off my internet.
Involved Parent & Internet User