Teens Respond to Net Neutrality
What do teens think about the FCC's vote to repeal Net Neutrality?
On December 14, 2017, the Federal Communications Commission voted to repeal the Open Internet Order, a rule that previously kept Internet Service Providers (ISPs) from slowing down connection or limiting access to content on a site-by-site basis. Since these rules, known as Net Neutrality, have been repealed, many United States citizens are worried that the Internet will become a luxury item rather than a public commodity. Some are speculating that internet service could be sold in tiers, grouping certain sites into packages, which could make the internet accessible only to the elite. And others think negative effects, if any, will be negligible.
In light of the repeal of Net Neutrality, we decided to reach out to the Choices Teen Advisory Board to get their thoughts on this current event. With 92 percent of teens reporting going online daily, it's no surprise that our teens had some very passionate responses. Of our 41 teens surveyed, almost 80 percent feared difficulty being able to research and complete homework online. More than 60 percent expressed concern about having difficulty accessing their favorite YouTube channels as a result of the repeal. And 92 percent are afraid that net neutrality may make the internet slower.
We asked our teens if they had any other thoughts on ending Net Neutrality. Here's what they had to say.
Some teens feared this decision will affect their education:
So much of our education and life overall is rooted in the Internet—through watching videos, using Google Classroom/Google Drive/Google Sheets, writing essays, checking online grades, emailing, looking for online recipes, etc. I can't even begin to imagine how many problems this would cause students who plan on taking online classes (as I do next year, and the year after). I feel like this is a large step backwards.
I've grown up receiving all of my news from online sources such as news websites and social media. I worry that if my access to these platforms is cut off, then I will not be as informed about the world around me. Additionally, social media is where I've really been exposed to new ideas and cultures. Again, I worry that if my access to these eye-opening websites is restricted, then I will not be as well versed, and instead, will remain trapped in my own little bubble.
I am worried about this affecting my school because we are soon becoming a one-to-one school.
Some teens were concerned about the future of businesses and careers:
As a small business owner, I fear that more and more teens will have a hard time starting online businesses or learning how to program effectively.
The future of the internet is at stake. I am worried that it will become much harder for a new internet startup to get off the ground. Net neutrality supports the people, not billion-dollar corporations. It's also a somewhat sinister decision; why undo this previously-standard rule unless some affiliated party will benefit from the increased commercialization of internet speed and free access?
Mostly I'm worried for small businesses whose customers either primarily or entirely come from the internet. With this, their earnings will take a harsh cut. I also have quite a few internet friends, and if Net Neutrality is repealed, I'm not sure how I would contact them again.
All of the careers that I want to go into (cosplay, animation, game art, etc.) revolve around the Internet and I’m worried that if we lose Net Neutrality that I won’t be able to pursue my dream careers.
Some teens were concerned about how this decision will contribute to freedom and equality in our country:
I'm worried that the repeal of Net Neutrality will affect marginalized groups of people who won't be able to share their opinions on the internet or have safe spaces to interact online.
The internet used to make everyone equal. Everyone had equal access to the content, but now I worry that the government or internet providers will limit what information we can see, therefore keeping us in the dark.
It takes away our First Amendment rights by stopping us from expressing our own opinions through our own websites.
What does your class think about the recent FCC vote to undo these rules? Try using this post as a conversation starter, or as a classroom opener on current events. This New York Times article may be helpful background information for you and your students. Tweet us your students' thoughts using the hashtag #ScholasticChoices on Twitter.