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Why do schools block some online games?

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Quick Answer

Among the reasons schools block some online games are to block potentially objectionable content and to reduce distractions. Games, social networking and instant messaging are the three online activities schools most commonly block, according to the American Association of School Librarians.

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Distraction is a serious obstacle to learning, scientific and psychological studies show. Multitasking creates divided attention, which experts say produces learning that is both shallower and more temporary. Experts argue that teachers must guide students' attention and must remove the temptation of distracting activities such as online games. Using filters to block games and other content allows educators to more fully express to students what is important and worthwhile, these experts assert.

Schools also have a mandate to protect children from certain content. The Children's Internet Protection Act requires schools that receive certain funding to block content that is obscene, pornographic or harmful to children.

Many educators argue that filtering software also can block teachers' access to useful online materials. Also, some software makes it difficult for districts to customize blocking features, meaning games blocked at one site are blocked at all sites. Others argue that students are often more skilled with computers than teachers and administrators and can easily find ways around the filtering software.

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