It’s ironic that we can consider physical substances to be so harmful to our bodies that we enact laws upon laws restricting their access, yet few people make an effort to protect kids from the dangers of information. Just as adolescents under 21 should not have equal access to alcohol, marijuana, and nicotine as adults, neither should they have equal access to information. Granted, some children mature earlier and can rightfully earn the privilege as their guardians see it.
What we need is a tier based Internet that restricts users based on their earned privilege rights. A five or ten year old has little use for information on politics like gun law, or need to know about crime statistics or pornography. Such information can be detrimental to the development of their entire foundation of the understanding of the world around them. So why do we even provide access to it for them? A tier based Internet can automatically sort a user into an appropriate level of understanding of what they should be learning at their maturity and/or age level.
We already have this system naturally in our schools. When a student completes a grade, they move on to the next grade where they learn the next appropriate material. Introducing a completely open internet throws the traditional model of learning out the window. We have introduced chaos among our youth by offering a seemingly unlimited number of distractions available 24/7. This is why kids have ADD and other attention disorders. Kids never stop learning, so when we have this medium opened up to them that facilitates learning in thousands of new categories, we have information overload.
A restricted Internet is a very unpopular and naturally undesirable concept because it takes control from individual people and puts it into the hands of another, usually corporations. But it does not have to be this way. The people who should determine what level of privilidge a person deserves on the internet should be given to the persons legal guardians and reviewed by their school teachers. If you don’t have a high school diploma, why do you deserve free reign on the Internet?
The Internet is a privilege and the only way we can prevent it from being abused is by treating it like one. People should only have the level of Internet rights that they have earned.
This calls for a massively complex restructuring of carriers and service providers and a new system of privacy, access rights, categorization, and is controversial in almost every respect, but it is the best way to ensure that every student gets an equal and fair experience online. Without a maturity based tiered Internet, the already threatened psychological state of society is doomed.