Blanket Internet ban not the best solution
Xiao Sun  Updated: 2004-06-23 08:51

The central authorities have launched a programme to ban minors from Internet cafes during the upcoming summer vacation.

During summer vacation, absence of sufficient supervision from parents and schools, less pressure of studies and plenty of spare time can easily lead young people into Internet cafes. A strong sense of curiosity and lack of self-control make them easy prey for unhealthy content such as violence, pornography and gambling.

Without proper guidance, what the Internet brings them will be nothing but harm.

In this light, the decision to keep youth out of Internet cafes might, at first glance, contribute to their moral soundness. However, such a universal ban may produce some side effects.

The Internet, like many of the new inventions in the world, is a double-edged sword. It has the potential to corrupt character, but it can be equally, if not more, powerful in helping young people improve themselves.

The rapid development of the Internet has profoundly changed our lives. It provides convenient and accessible information, broadens our vision and enriches our experience.

For young people, it is a must to master the skills of making use of the Internet to get access to more valuable information for their study and moral cultivation as well as entertainment.

Moreover, the Internet also serves as a platform for communication.

Statistics show that by the end of last year China had nearly 80 million netizens - about 40 per cent of whom, including many children, access the Internet in cyber cafes.

The decision to bar youth from Internet cafes deprives the right of young people with no access to personal computers to make use of legitimate business operations.

A better way to protect China's youth and at the same time respect their right to Internet access is to strengthen control on the cyber content provided by public Internet outlets. It is technically feasible to use software to block pornographic or excessively violent content.

Strengthened regulation always incurs costs. It means the government will have to spend more resources than simply issuing an all-round ban.

But it may be a better solution.

(China Daily)

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