On Wednesday, January 18th, many websites protested two potential laws that were slated to be voted into law on January 24th. The two Acts, SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act) were intended originally to protect intellectual property and goods from being illegally pirated and copied by not allowing websites to earn ad supported money. However, the vague wording of the acts allowed more open interpretation that could have extended to a broader censoring of the Internet in the United States.
Children and teens who were using the Internet on January 18th were confronted with “blacked out” websites and were provided with an explanation of the protest through sites like Wikipedia, Google, and Amazon. Many children also signed the protests and got involved in the government by calling and emailing their local representatives as suggested by the websites. Students wanted to learn more about the issues.
Learning Opportunities from SOPA & PIPA
They were definitely curious and came to adults and parents to find out more. This event provided a great teachable moment at home for learning not only about the Internet, censorship, and freedom of speech, but also about legislation and how the government writes laws, votes, and passes laws.
Wikipedia has a vast amount of information regarding SOPA and PIPA. These would be great resources to refer to when speaking with children about the two proposed laws. Another blog resource “Parenting Geekly”, has information that is directed in helping parents to explain SOPA to their children by using examples that kids can relate to easily.
Resources for children to learn about the First Amendment include Education for Freedom and Learning & Living the First Amendment. Education for Freedom provides activities that can be done in the classroom or at home including reading and understanding the first amendment and learning about heroes who have voiced their opinions to make positive change. This site also has many links to other great resources.
This topic also provides an opportunity to teach your children about how a Federal Act becomes a law. eHow has an easy to read site about the steps and process. The Act starts as a draft that is led by a senator or representative, is it then introduced to the House and Senate, a committee will hear presentations and testimonies on the bill, if it is approved it is bought to the Floor, debated more, and then voted on. If the vote passes, it is presented to the President for him to sign the Act into Law. Cyber Learning World has a great visual of this process that can help children to understand the process.
The strong standing that was shown by individuals and Internet sites on January 18th led senators and congressmen to retract their opinions and support for the two acts. The vote that was to be held on the 24th was canceled and both acts were tabled indefinitely.
Article By Laura Ketcham-VanHellemont
Picture By DaveHolmes
Free Educational Resources by SmartTutor.com