Most schools have Internet filters to protect students from inappropriate online content and to comply with the Children’s Internet Protection Act. However, Internet filters are not enough.
First of all, with hundreds of new pornography and other inappropriate sites surfacing everyday, it is a losing battle to try to create a database of every bad web site on the Internet. Keyword-based filters like CompuGuardian can be used to provide a second layer of protection, but even these do not block all improper web sites. Predators, pornographers and drug dealers are actively reaching out to students, using every technique at their disposal to trap young computer users. Filters are just not sophisticated enough to thwart all the actions of online criminals in their quest for new victims.
Second, while filters help prevent accidental exposure to adult content online, they typically block valid educational web content as well, more often than not throwing out the proverbial baby with the bath water. A recent study showed that “filters overstep their bounds in many cases … and teachers simply are too busy to follow up with technology staff to request access to legitimate sites, or–worse–technology staff aren’t responsive enough to the needs of classroom teachers, too often educationally useful sites aren’t removed from these filters’ block lists, despite the ability of administrators to remove them at the local level.” 1
So how do you relax the censorship of Internet filters that are frustrating and preventing students from doing online research, while protecting them from online dangers? The answer lies in teaching students, at a level appropriate to their age, to learn how to deal with improper web content and follow up on this training with monitoring software that can catch problem situations where students are actively seeking pornography, violence and drugs online. CompuGuardian provides powerful reporting tools to examine millions of activity log entries in a matter of minutes and raise red flags that warrant investigation and disciplinary actions.