I love the new trendy App, What’s the Word. It’s a game that displays four pictures and you have to decipher what word connects the pictures. I got stuck on an answer, so I naturally did what anyone would do… I Googled it. But, I made a huge mistake. I forgot to add “What’s the Word,” in my Google search bar. And the four pictures – a girl holding a glass, a girl lying in bed, a toothbrush and a cup full of toothbrushes – returned an entire page of inappropriate content. Now I’m an adult, so I can handle it. I corrected my Goggle search terms, searched again and ta da! Someone, from who knows where in the world, had answered the very same question for someone else… the answer – morning. With the purest intentions, I had unknowingly stumbled upon a barrage of sites I had no intention of visiting.
Television shows have viewer discretionary ratings. Movies have viewer discretionary ratings. Video games have ratings. Even songs downloaded from iTunes have “explicit” or safe ratings. So, why in the face of the ever-expanding digital world of the Internet, do websites not have ratings? Now, I know I can easily set up a parental block or password to bar access to inappropriate content, but is it enough? I might be stepping on some toes here, but with the evolvement of new technologies, standards must be raised. At what point does a person’s digital content meet the First Amendment? Everyone has the ability to send information. We all have the ability to be creators now and not just passive receivers. So, why are there not higher standards for the information that is allowed to be sent into the digital world?
What if it had been one of my 5th graders who play that game, and had accidentally accessed those pages? It disgusts me to think about my 11-year olds seeing content meant for mature eyes. Our ability to access more information than ever before is a gift! But, it must be handled with care and responsibility. There has to be a way to hold content producers to higher standards without completely stifling their freedom of speech. I surely don’t have the answers, but I know it’s out there. Perhaps that will be a noble venture to pursue in the future.