The issue of appropriate use of the Internet at home and in schools is being hotly debated right now in, and outside, the Internet. In March 1995 Marlene Goss wrote a letter to the discussion list of the Consortium for School Networking (CoSNdisc@list.cred.net) appealing to educational policymakers to focus on access and equity when dealing with Internet in schools, instead of focusing on restricting such access. She found it remarkable how many hours were being spent "deciding student use when only 3% of the classroom teachers, professional adults, have use of the Internet." Her point was not so much that students should have unlimited access, but that teachers and other educators should not be denied access under the guise of protecting children. Educators, she argued, "make intelligent decisions about what we expose our students to, daily."

In response, this writer partially agrees with Goss, but worries that monitoring access to the Internet is the kind of challenge that is not familiar to parents and teachers. Most parents and teachers are accustomed to the challenges of monitoring what children watch on television. Monitoring computer use, however, is very different. Once a youngster is logged on the information superhighway, he or she has the capacity to roam the world. Unlike television where parents either know the schedule or can see what the youngster is watching, computers tend to be in places where a child can explore the world unobserved. To some extent this is not a big problem in schools because the computer room is usually supervised. Even with good supervision in schools however, there is the problem that the Internet traveler sits right in front of the tube, with the ability to obscure what he or she is reading, sending, or viewing.


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