The Instigator
buletman
Con (against)
Winning
51 Points
The Contender
Rob
Pro (for)
Losing
37 Points

There should be an age restriction to the people who can participate in debates.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/11/2007 Category: Society
Updated: 9 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 2,396 times Debate No: 237
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (7)
Votes (28)

 

buletman

Con

First of all, I have wanted to start this debate for a while, but my problem was wondering which side I fell on.

There are many young adults on here, <18, that are very capable of forming logical, rational arguments. With that said, there are also some who can/choose/do not do this.

However, since I believe this site's main endeavor is the creation of knowledge, in order to not chance missing out on knowledge, we should not restrict anyone from debating, and that is why I'm against creating an age requirement. Not to mention, any determined individual can hide their true age on the internet anyhow.

I also ask that we not disclose the names of any individual, as this site is also not about individual ridicule.
Rob

Pro

There should be an age restriction, but a rather low one--perhaps anyone below their teen years. Although it is true that this site is educational, we must also keep in mind that people who have yet to develop their reasoning abilities significantly would be better served simply watching debates than participating in them, since otherwise they risk being publicly humiliated and becoming discouraged from future intellectual and debate-related endeavors. We may also want to keep in mind that debaters here sometimes use harsh language, and that many of the issues debated here are perhaps too mature for young people to properly understand without parental guidance.

However, perhaps forbidding an age group from debating would be excessive (not to mention unenforceable if someone simply lies about their age). A notification warning site visitors that some debates may cover topics (e.g., abortion, bestiality, etc.) in very graphic and explicit language should be sufficient.

Beyond that, I agree that this site shouldn't be reserved solely for people who are already superb debaters--the most important function of this website is educational, providing practice and examples for people who are still developing their opinions and debate style.
Debate Round No. 1
buletman

Con

Well said Rob, I am in agreement, it is just, there are some really inane comments and arguments from time to time, and I have often wanted to be the "Pro" side of this argument.

However:

I believe it is mandated by law in the US that under 13 requires parental consent to participate in any website / community. For this site in general, as you stated, individuals' abilities may not have formed by a certain age, and it could pose harsh consequences. However, that which does not kill you makes you stronger. So if one nine year old with somewhat advanced computing skills, albeit probably not advanced reasoning skills, can make his way on this site, and embarrass himself, may it not be motivation to hone one's rationale?

Since we agree that this is educational, how can we restrict education without succumbing to ideals of censorship and control?
Rob

Pro

Well, one obvious way that we could minimize the abuse and harsh language young children visiting this site might deal with, without resorting to censorship, would be to provide an offshoot site specifically for debates between younger parties, intended to deal with "safer" topics and to provide a more gentle, nurturing environment for new initiates to debate to practice in. Of course, one disadvantage of this would be that people might not learn as quickly if they debated only with people at around their own level; but perhaps the benefits of being less intimidating would justify this. I'm not strongly decided one way or another on this issue, but want to make it clear that there are many options available outside of outright censorship, should we choose to address it at all.

I hadn't heard of any US law saying that children under 13 need parental permission to visit a Web site; do you have a source? (However, if that's so, it still doesn't eliminate the issue, since children who have parental permission can still be exposed to mature content.)

To an extent, I agree that it's good for people to get embarrassed a little at times in order to learn from their mistakes and improve. However, it's a matter of degree. A little failure might encourage people to try harder, but major failures can have the opposite effect. Likewise, criticism can be useful, but overly severe criticism can be too discouraging. Additionally, people need a taste of success too in order to know what they're striving for.
Debate Round No. 2
buletman

Con

Rob, I am not sure about the "13" law, but I do know from my experience that every TOS I have ever read when signing up for something asks if the user is 13. This may just be the anecdotal number used by a vast majority of online communities. I am not sure.

I applaud your ingenuity concerning a daughter site for younger users. I agree, there are drawbacks, but it is a step that could potentially help individuals hone their skills.

It is true, that there are those who might shy away after suffering, but maybe those are the ones who ought not to be participating then? Just some food for thought.

Anyway, I would ask you to disclose your "options outside of outright censorship," as I need them to be presented for me to understand whether or not they would still interfere with the site's main goal of education and knowledge-generation.

For the most part, we agree, and I thank you for the time you took to debate me. Good day, Rob.

Chad
Rob

Pro

Well, in addition to partitioning the site based on age to create a "for-kids" debate site, another option is that we could use content indicators on different debates that tell users whether mature topics or language are present on that page. This would allow younger viewers to navigate the site safely by avoiding the pages marked for mature content.

Indeed, I enjoyed debating with you, and we do seem to largely agree. However, I should probably reveal that I signed up for this debate accidentally, as I originally intended to represent the "Con" side but didn't notice that you had already chosen that option. Rather than griping about it, I decided to take it up as a challenge and try debating the opposite side from the one I'd intended. So, I'm happy if I've been successful at that. :)
Debate Round No. 3
7 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 7 records.
Posted by NSG 9 years ago
NSG
I enjoy seeing younger people participate in debates here!
It has helped me open my eyes to see the future of America!
Many of them are wiser than their peers, they are ambitious,passionate! That's the beauty of debate.org! :)
Posted by llamallama 9 years ago
llamallama
I'm 14 and I can have educated debates. Anyone who thinks I can't have an educated debate should challenge me to support my views on global warming, welfare, progressive tax, or wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Iran. Challenge me and I'll show you that young people can debate too.
Posted by hattopic 9 years ago
hattopic
It's generally true that younger people are less educated, less developed, and have less experience than people older than them. However, to think that young people are incapable of structured reasoned arguments is somewhat biased. And to think that all older people can is also biased. Age has nothing to do with a person's debating skill. You could have a 30 year old with no debate experience, and a 16 year old that's been debating for years. However age is generally associated with experience, and with good reason, the older one is, the more time they've had to gain such experience.

Also, think of the type of person that would join a debating website. Usually people that have some interest in debate. I haven't seen many arguments that have developed into personal attacks. And I've seen many people under 18 make very convincing arguments. If you find yourself in a debate with a kid that's just insulting you, then you'll probably end up winning the debate. I don't really see what the problem is.
Posted by nene_cinci 9 years ago
nene_cinci
Ok so even if there was an age restriction, even a twelve yr old could figure out how to type in a 18 yr olds birthday.
Posted by Ineffablesquirrel 9 years ago
Ineffablesquirrel
If that WAS the case, jemual, then the quality of the debates by young people would be higher. I find that the worst debates on this site are those by the young people who are emotional, irrational, and generally ignorant about the topics they try to debate.
Posted by jemual 9 years ago
jemual
I agree with Mr. Buletman, youngsters start forming logical thinking and reasoning. Young ones grasp ideas and are somewhat open-minded.

At the age of 11, students are taught how to debate here in our place so that they can express their ideas. Even if they aren't fluent in speaking english, they have the idea on counter-attacking their enemies. They start to get out from their shells.

I believe that shouldn't be an age restrictions in persons who participate in debates.
Posted by Ineffablesquirrel 9 years ago
Ineffablesquirrel
I completely agree with Rob. I find (for the most part) that younger individuals make less logical, less informed, more emotional, and more biased statements. They aren't able to debate properly and this degrades the debating process for everyone. We also have many young people who try to debate who THINK they know all the aspects of something, but in truth, do not. Additionally, they do not even try to back up their statements with facts, but merely statements like "my parents told me" or "girls older than me said so" or similar inane points that should have no bearing on a debate.

Oh, and yes, I understand that we want the younger crowds to LEARN how to properly debate, but considering they think they know everything about their topics (or the debating process, in general), they refuse to take constructive criticisms to heart. Instead, they feel "picked on" and get more emotional and irrational. This has to do with the lack of mental maturity and ability to reason that Rob brings up.
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