I have had to lobby this week to have the IT people that manage the computer filtering at the school I work with to give adults access to MySpace. In fact, I don’t even know if any of the adults that come to computer drop-in time at the hich school ever even try to access MySpace, but I know if they try, they can’t.
The larger problem is that the filtering software they use to keep kids off of a ton of different sites during the school day (Surf Control, if it matters) behaves … erratically. I have computer logins specifically for my adult students and every now and again I go to help them do something and find that Google is blocked. Not Gmail, just plain old Google.com. So I call the IT people and ask them to fix it and they usually do. However, since I actually need to be able to access sites like Google during my evening classes, we’ve reached a compromise where they turn the filter off between 3 (after school) and 8 pm. However, they also track all the traffic that goes through the network during this time. They noticed, they said, that people were accessing MySpace. The implication was that 1) MySpace is against the rules and 2) MySpace has no value whatsoever and 3) even adults don’t have the right to use the computer networks to access social software sites.
So, I went to work and explained that the adults who come to drop-in time shoudl pretty much have the right to look at whatever they want, that MySpace is fine — I hadn’t been looking at MySpace but I had a page on MySpace that I might want to look at — and that the reports of MySpace’s dangers have bee greatly overrated. Read the article. Fewer teens are receiving unwanted online solicitations than they were in 1999. Despite this, we get laws like DOPA. That’s lousy.