Had a phone survey this morning ask me if I thought TV and movies for kids were getting too lax on things like swearing, violence, inappropriate content, etc. I said, “Yeah, definitely.”
They asked if I felt, as a parent, that I should be the one choosing what my children watch. I said, “YES. Does anybody actually say no to that question?!”
Then they asked me if I thought the internet should be regulated in the way TV and movies are rated. I said, “No.” I declined the petition because it included a bit about rating the internet.
And here’s why I said what I did: The internet is probably the biggest practical look at “free speech” we have today, IMO. If we, as parents/grandparents/guardians, are going to take responsibility for what our kids are exposed to, then WE are the ones who should provide those ratings in our own homes. We can’t start controlling what people upload. I wish SO MUCH that we could, but we can’t. It’s that tricky thing about treating people as PEOPLE rather than as animals who need to be corralled. It’s absolutely true that many, many people abuse the privilege of being a human with free will living in a country that advocates free speech. It is also true that our kids will have to deal with such people on their own one day and I would rather train my children than control my children.
I am the mother of four kids and I don’t think a “safe” Internet is a real option. It’s either a place of freedom for the average person or it’s another tool of the government to tell us what we should think, a tool of the marketplace to tell us what we want. Those things are online now, but I still have the option of ignoring them. I still have the choice to view what I consider worthwhile content and keep out the things I consider ill-advised. Setting precedent is an important step. We rate TV shows and movies because (to my understanding) they are produced by people who subject themselves to a business and therefore have some level of accountability. And that’s not even working! We do not rate the internet because it is largely produced by individuals who are a law unto themselves, so to speak. To rate the internet would be to rate individuals, not just content. And that sets a very significant precedent for our country. Who would be the next “R-rated” person? If you think it would be producers of pornography or pro-abortionists, you are kidding yourself. An R-rated person, a person whose beliefs and opinions were considered by the general public as inappropriate for minors–I would almost guarantee you it would be the most intolerant group. And who is considered most intolerant? Call me crazy, but I’m pretty sure it’s “fundamental” Christians. People who believe that God sets the standards and if you don’t play by His rules you get penalized. Our country does not appreciate that point of view. Bigotry, perceived or actual, would be made R-rated faster than you think and BAM. Regulating free speech suddenly doesn’t start to sound like such a good idea, does it?
What to do with the internet deserves some critical thinking. Do your families a favor and participate in the conversation.