'Intellectual inoculation' the best defence

'Intellectual inoculation' the best defence

In the era of the Internet, Twitter, tweets, blogs and YouTube visuals, one of Singapore's key concerns should be how to protect the young from the harmful influences that sometimes accompany these innovations.

Without the luxury of a surplus populace, it is especially important for Singapore to protect its youth from sexually explicit and exploitative sites. Such sites can prove addictive to formative minds, preventing them from developing meaningful relationships as adults. Singapore's future citizenry also needs to be safeguarded from the imposition of radical ideologies that might threaten national cohesion.

The current system

Safefuarding Singaporean youth from sexually explicit material may seem easy. After all, Singapore has been at it for some time.

The three major Internet service providers (ISPs) are subject to regulation by the Media Development Authority (MDA) to block websites containing objectionable material. The Ministry of Education also blocks access to "objectionable" Internet content on its proxy servers.

Singapore has been extremely proactive and sensitive in its responses. In 1991, the authorities began introducing various categories of film classifications. At first there were three classification ratings: G (General), PG (Parental Guidance) and R18 (Restricted to 18 years and above).

Since then, a series of modifications has taken place. The MDA has now introduced NC16, R21 and M18 classifications. In addition, a "consumer advice" component has been added to provide information on the content of films. With the new "film on demand" and other such features available on our television sets, we can now also activate a parental lock at home.

But the problem is never entirely resolved. How much of our limited resources, both human and economic, can we expend on censorship?

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