I've been on the internet since I was in elementary school, completely unmonitered. Thankfully, when I was young there were sites like Fantage, Animal Jam, Disney Create, and much more that were accessible to me as a little kid, being browser based. Nowadays, when I search for those things that shaped my childhood so intimately, i find that they've been lost to time. Club Penguin, Petpet Park, Herotopia, Fantage, Disney Fairies, Bin Weevils, Moshi Monsters, Poptropica, Agar.io, PBSkids; It bums me out to think about.
Safe websites accessible to kids today are few and far between. With overwhelmingly popular sites like Tiktok, Roblox, and Youtube; the places that were made with children in mind are overshadowed by big names. Whether overrun with pedophiles or aggressive marketing, kids growing up on the internet right now are being preyed upon in a place that was once full of wonder.
And with the larger audience of children on big platforms like Tiktok and Youtube, the censorship policies on these websites grow tighter and tighter. For example, creators on Youtube have begun censoring terms such as 'abuse,' 'autism,' 'violence,' 'trigger,' 'lesbian,' 'gender,' 'suicide,' and many, MANY more out of fear of being demonitized. Here is a comprehensive list of words that Youtube has demonitized videos for containing. This censorship of terms is not being used to keep children safe, however, but instead is to keep advertisers on the platform. Generally, websites in the modern era have grown to be more focused on profit than ever, ignoring their userbases to make decisions that harm their community while funding their pockets.

This topic is very important to me. The internet should be a safe, happy place for everyone. But the direction we are going in seems to get bleaker with every new development. From the short lived yet disastrously impactful NFTs, to the ever growing onslaught of AI generation use, I fear that the internet will never be the vast, uncontained place that it once was when I was little. And maybe that has something to do with growing up, learning that everything eventually gets eaten by bigger and bigger fish until you only have one massive conglomerate controling your life. But thats sad and it doesnt have to be that way. It shouldn't be that way.