Parental Controls

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Way back in 1996, we were supposed to get an amazing new technology for helping parents better control what content kids had access to. It was called the V-chip. It was going to be revolutionary. But instead, it was a complete and utter failure. [1]

Twenty-five years later and there's far more information to filter thanks to the widespread adoption of the Internet. Filtering services have been adopted by schools and libraries and millions of homes. And as advanced as the technology is, it still doesn't work [2].

This should be no surprise to anyone who has studied the Constitution and in particular the First Amendment. We've always been a country with a strong commitment to free expression. Which means that no amount of government intervention is likely to be effective because we Americans really do not want the government controlling what can or cannot be said in the public space.

So my opinion is that Congress was foolish to mandate the V-chip back in 1996. It didn't work. And neither did Child Online Protection Act which was passed in 1998 [3]. Nor did the Children's Internet Protection Act (2000). And the current round of legislation, which features the Kids Online Safety Act (KOSA) and the Children and Teen’s Online Privacy Protection Act probably won't be all that successful either.

Not because we don't need to protect children. But because the values of our free country means this is not something the government can do.

If children have unmonitored access to the Internet they will see things we adults might not want them to see. The key word there is unmonitored.

The answer is simple, but expensive. We have to spend time with the kids when those kids want to go online.

[1] TechDirt and Cornell Univeristy and many other articles from ages ago that sound like the could have been written last week.

[2] Per the The Wall Street Journal (archive link if you don't have a subscription)

[3] COPA fell apart for different reasons but I don't see how it would have succeeded.

parental_controls.txt · Last modified: 2024/02/15 16:33 by rslaughter