Deleting Online Teenagers August 13, 2006Posted by cmac in Politics, School.
Deleting Online Predators Act (DOPA). Sounds good, right? After all, who wouldn’t support legislation that keeps ill-meaning people off of MySpace, AOL Instant Messenger and social networking sites?
You probably haven’t heard of DOPA; most of the frustration with it has been in the educational technology community, not in the student community. I find this rather interesting because DOPA doesn’t ultimately affect teachers, it affects students.
House Resolution 5319, also entitled the “Deleting Online Predators Act” mandates that schools and libraries recieving E-Rate funding for technology block all “social networking sites” (not explicitly defining what a social networking site is). When I think “social networking sites,” I think MySpace. Most schools and libraries already ban MySpace and FaceBook. So what have we got to loose, right?
Almost every popular and highly used website could be blocked under DOPA. Amazon.com for customer book reviews. Google for Google Groups. Even a blog or forum for classroom use could not be accessed from school or the library.
Although DOPA attempts to protect us from online predators, it would really stifle our ability to learn. As students, we need access to many sites which contain “social networking” as a learning tool, to supplement classroom instruction – an ability DOPA would prohibit. Think about not being able to access Wikipedia (wiki = social networking tool) for quick info about an author or topic. If DOPA passes, schools and libraries would have to prohibit the use of Wikipedia.
Furthermore, interactive discussion tools (i.e. social networking tools) are quickly becoming a larger part of the workplace. School is workplace training, right? Well, under DOPA, we would be banned from learning how to use these discussion tools in an educational setting. This is akin to not letting us learn how to use computers until we get to a workplace that requires us to use them.
School is a learning environment. Neither our teachers nor our parents can protect from the less-desirable elements of the world; they can only teach us how to avoid them. There are certainly undesirable elements to social networking site. But by teaching us about them instead of banning us from them, we would be deleting internet predators without deleting our internet usage.
DOPA has already passed the House of Representatives (almost unanimously). It has currently been assigned to Commerce Committee of the Senate.
Keep track of DOPA. When it comes to the floor of the senate, write your senator. Remember, this bill is not ultimately asphixiating our senator’s learning, but ours.