The Internet is the fastest growing electronic technology in world history. In the United
States, it took 46 years before 30 percent of American homes were wired; 38 years passed before 30% of US homes had telephones, and 17 years for TV. The Internet took only seven years to reach 30 percent of American houses.
When I first took a job as the Marketing Director at a parental control software company 10 years ago, I was a little hesitant. My first impression had been that this company was selling a product that censors and I would never feel comfortable with promoting censorship. But quickly, I learned that such a view is a completely distorted understanding of what role the Internet should play in our lives.
Think of it this way. We are all born into and grow up within some kind of structure with rules. In the real world, kids have rules, the content we all have access to is monitored and controlled. Consider what is available on television or in the public library. The content that is available to us is based on cultural norms. We can say that exposing children to porn is wrong – there is a consensus on that. No one would knowingly allow their adolescent daughter to attend daily training sessions on how to hide their eating disorders from their families. Now if a pornography publisher would come to the school library and want to line the magazine shelves with porn, we all know that could not happen and we all agree that it should not happen. No one would call that censorship. If a child is out on the playground and a group of kids start to verbally bully him and a teacher overhears but chooses to walk away to a place where she cannot hear and ignores what is happening, we all know that the teacher’s actions would be questioned and we would object to her indifference as a lack of responsibility.
So why is anything different when it happens online? Why shouldn’t the same rules we apply in real life apply to the lives we are living on the Internet – rules of normalcy, good taste, limits, decency, age appropriate behavior, etc?