Too Restrictive?


©The Talon News | Ashlynn Roberts

Many websites are blocked from students’ Chromebooks. (Ashlynn Roberts/ The Talon News)

Ashlynn Roberts, Reporter

In the United States, 96 percent of schools with internet access monitor students’ activity online, in the hopes of preventing “sexually explicit content.” Although web filtering should be used in all schools, many school districts take it to the extreme by blocking educational websites and video links. Some images are also prohibited that are necessary for learning. While web filtering is a smart and effective way to keep internet access school-friendly, there are many things that can still be improved upon within the system. The majority of school web filters block irrelevant websites and are unsuccessful in serving their true purpose. 

Public schools restrict websites not only for students but for teachers as well. Often, teachers aren’t able to play educational videos in their classes because they are blocked. It’s quite frustrating when a teacher has to assign a video for homework simply because they are unable to play it in a school classroom. Web filtering systems not only block important videos, yet also alter teachers’ lesson plans.

It is understandable why schools want to block explicit content and adult-rated images, yet some gory depictions are necessary for learning. Videos that are about history wars do have some violence in them, yet students are already exposed to these type of images through Snapchat and Instagram. If students aren’t able to watch a book to movie adaptation for English class that may have a few fighting scenes or a history film with wars in it, how can they be expected to understand completely? Sometimes the original film can help students understand more about a topic than an altered, school-appropriate edition. 

By blocking websites, the amount of time it takes to perform any type of research is almost doubled. For example, students that need to research topics for health class aren’t even able to look at a website because one might contain words such as “sex”. Students sometimes can not research for a class because the topic they searched was too “sensitive” for school. So many websites are restricted, that students cannot even carry out simple research for schoolwork. Certain words are necessary to look up for school-related purposes, even though they may not seem appropriate if used in the wrong context. So much more could be accomplished and a lot of time saved if normal websites were available on student computers.

Web filters usually block what they are supposed to, although, at times, they restrict more than what is necessary. Apps such as Snapchat and Instagram should be inaccessible to students, yet other websites such as, Wikipedia and even Spotify all help students focus better and learn more information about a specific subject. In the end, only school administrators can control what is and isn’t blocked from students, and they need to reevaluate what websites are truly irrelevant for school activities.