Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Without a Net

One tricky thing about being a reviewer (and every parent is a reviewer to some extent) is that you can't let yourself get too comfortable with things like books, movies or the Internet. I don't use a filter for the Internet. The primary reason is that I don't want to inadvertently send people to something that looks clean to me but that hides something nefarious. It also gives me a sense of what constitutes safe behavior for avoiding problematic sites and such. There are lots of movies I won't watch, but when I watch a movie, I watch the whole thing to be reasonably sure I can give people an accurate picture of the value of the movie and who it might be appropriate for.

Experience has taught me a few lessons in this regard. Once I bought a movie I enjoyed in high school on TV and thought my young children would enjoy but was shocked to find out how much language and suggestive scenes had been edited out for TV. I sent some of my Latin students to a chat site where we could conduct some online classes and didn't realize until later that my pop-up ads blocker made me unaware of some underwear ads that were a significant embarassment to some of the teenage boys in our class. These weren't huge problems, but they made me more aware of the issues involved in keeping children safe.

Don't get me wrong, I think filters can be a great thing and some movies are quite a bit better after editing, but basically there's no substitute for parental vigilance and involvement. We can't afford to be clueless regarding the dangers of the world and the issues our children will face as they grow older. Sometimes this involves going a little outside of our comfort zone in order to keep informed.

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