The scarier part of the story is that the United States most certainly has the capability to turn off communications as easily as it can turn it on. It's too much power, something the United States has had for a long time if you include nuclear weapons, and the like.
Today a colleague of mine and I gave a talk to middle school parents at our school on ways to teach your child about appropriate boundaries and behaviors online. We shared a number of links and I thought my readers (if there are any!) might find them useful for use in your own schools and with your own families. There are a lot, but they are great!
We watched the video, "Do You Know 4.0"
The Pew Internet and American Life Project did a study called Generational differences in online activities which summarizes the different things that different age groups do online - from e-mail to social networking, and everything in between.
David Pogue has a well-written article in the New York Times titled, How Dangerous Is The Internet For Children where he breaks down the myths and truths regarding children online. In that article is a link to the PBS Frontline documentary Growing Up Online, which is well worth your time to watch. You can watch it online for free.
We discussed a New York Times article titled, Sorry, Boys, This Is Our Domain, which discusses how women and girls actually produce the majority of image/video driven content on the web, breaking some of the myths of boys/girls and technology.
The Dana Foundation has a good primer called Brain Development in a Hyper-Tech World which tells us that little is yet known about the effects of all the technology in our children's lives. We do know however that "multitasking," or fast attention switching makes learning much less productive than focused work. The article also discusses social development in the age of Facebook.
We don't recommend any particular brand of filters for home. That being said, many families find it helpful to block out objectionable content or block certain websites/applications at certain times. GetNetWise has a section that highlights popular filtering tools.