“There is no free lunch in the Internet.” This famous line has been used so many times that it has become a cliche, and it is true that there are indeed no free lunch locations on the Internet. But are there some benefits of having a free web access in schools? Is it really a boon or a curse? In this article we will attempt to answer that question by looking at both sides of the argument.
The first thing to note is that access to the Internet in schools is definitely a boon. It opens up so many new educational opportunities. Students can download school assignments and study from their computers. They can write papers and create presentations for class, all of which leads to more learning and development. Students have access to the Internet at all times, so they do not have to be restricted to sitting in a classroom all day like most adults. They have the opportunity to use technology and learn at their own pace.
There are of course some downfalls to free Internet access, and one of them is that students will inevitably be tempted to surf the Internet for entertainment purposes. Some studies show that students who surf the Internet are less likely to take college entrance exams because they are too busy being entertained. So while free school resources are definitely a boon to students, the danger of distraction is a real issue.
Another downfall of free Internet access in schools is that it can easily become abused. Students may begin to surf the Internet for non-school related activities such as e-mailing or instant messaging. This can actually become more of a problem than a benefit, since it opens the door for other students to get in on the action without abiding by the school’s privacy policies. If the wrong people get hold of the free Internet in school websites, it can be very costly for the school.
A final drawback of free Internet access in schools is that many times it is not available to everyone, meaning that some students have no option but to accept what the school provides. Even when the Internet is available, there are still times when students want to use the Internet but cannot, for one reason or another. In this case, the school’s servers may become unavailable and the Internet will revert to using an alternative server. This is a situation that is best avoided or at least mitigated by clearly explaining the reasons why individual access is not possible.
So is free Internet access in schools a blessing or a curse? While it is true that the Internet has many positive aspects, it does also have some drawbacks that are just as good as any alternative. Those who are against free Internet access in schools probably do so because they don’t like uncertainty, and because they don’t want their children to be unprepared for a new technological world. On the other hand, those who welcome the increased opportunities offered by the Internet probably do so because they want their children to be ready for the challenges presented by the changing world and by providing them with the tools needed for education in the modern era.
The good news is that even those who strongly oppose the notion of free Internet access in schools can be won over if the arguments put forward are both reasonable and compelling. For example, it is perfectly legitimate to object to free traffic on the Internet, or to the fact that information is controlled by powerful organizations that have influence over decisions about how the Internet should be used. While it is true that these groups have an interest in the control of the flow of information, they cannot be considered the evil that they are often painted out to be. On the other hand, free access to the Internet can open up an entirely new world of possibilities for children, providing them with an extensive range of educational opportunities that they would otherwise never have had.
If the argument is framed properly, it will have the effect of eliminating most if not all of the objections that are raised against free Internet access in schools. There will then be only two issues to be resolved: how the Internet will be administered and how students will use it. Once these issues are settled, there is no reason why the Internet should not be made available to all children. In fact, it is likely that the introduction of free Internet access in schools will lead to more children than ever being able to enjoy this potentially brilliant educational technology. So, the question is, should parents not take advantage of this golden opportunity?